Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

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Beyond Plastic: Growing Innovation Eco-System

Plastic pollution is an economic, environmental, human health and aesthetic problem posing a multi-dimensional challenge to humanity, often compared to climate change in terms of impact, breadth and complexity. Plastic material offers multiple benefits to consumers and manufacturers and for the most part, is without viable alternatives. Consumption has grown 20X times since the sixties (1.5MT in 1964 to 311MT in 2014), and industry projects that rate to triple by 2050. The negative externalities associated with this growth are staggering – plastic production will reach almost 20% of the global oil production; it will use 15% of the global carbon budget and will likely surpass the airline industry’s use of petroleum.

A problem of this magnitude cannot be solved with a single linear policy or technological innovation. It needs a cohesive innovation eco-system supporting a shift away from conventional fossil fuel plastics towards bio-based, bio-benign materials from renewable sources; new packaging design; new manufacturing processes; and innovative consumer and business products leveraging these new materials.

The eco-system incorporates innovators, investors, public policy and civil society and is an essential enabler of the transition towards the new plastics economy of circular materials and circular design.

Students will learn:

- how to evaluate an environmental challenge through the lens of innovation;

- how to develop a complete understanding of the interdependencies of the elements of the eco-system;

- how to create and build out the strategic relations between the eco-system components; and

- observe how such an eco-system thrives in a practical implementation with focus on the New Plastics Economy.

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IEPG 8608

All Sections in Spring 2019 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

Spring 2019 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

IEPG8608A-S19 Workshop (Russo)