Disposable plastics continue to pollute the world’s water – but the good news is more and more people are talking about it.
National Geographic raised the issue of oceans plastics to a global audience in its June 2018 edition, whose striking imagery, shocking statistics and urgent calls to action were impossible to ignore. It also launched the Planet or Plastic? initiative, a multi-year global effort to raise awareness and inspire action, with the ultimate goal of ending plastic marine pollution.
Valerie Craig, Deputy to the Chief Scientist and Vice President of Operating Programs for the National Geographic Society, will highlight the issue of ocean plastic – and what can potentially be done to address it – as our closing keynote presenter for Day 1 of the 2019 Zero Waste Conference.
Through a highly visual presentation, Craig will explain how plastic has revolutionized human life, serving important uses that modern societies have grown to depend on.
“Plastics have undeniably changed our lives, and in many ways for the better, but we’ve also created a pollution problem of an almost unimaginable scale,” Craig said in a recent presentation. “Today, plastics have been found from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and from the sea floor to the surface. They’re everywhere.”
Painting the Big Picture Ahead of Day 2
Craig’s keynote will set the stage for ZWC19’s Day 2 program, which includes presentations from plastic upcycling innovators Arthur Huang of MINIWIZ and Tom Szaky of TerraCycle, as well as the Plastics: A Global Challenge & Opportunity for Circularity at Scale panel.
Craig oversees strategy and operations for a series of National Geographic’s flagship programs and projects that help to push the boundaries of exploration, while further understanding our world, and collaboratively generating solutions for a healthy, more sustainable planet.
A key theme of Craig’s work is to translate public concern about the environment into meaningful action:
“What gets public attention are the really flashy, exciting sexy things – people love to hear about the latest water bottle made form seaweed or edible utensils. Those make great stories and demonstrate the opportunity for innovation, but they’re just scratching the surface of the problem.”
Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge
For governments, corporations and civil society, systemic change will require human ingenuity and global thinking. The National Geographic Society and Sky Ocean Ventures have started an Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge to source ideas from around the world about how to address plastic waste.
The challenge has three streams – the first a call to scientists and innovators to develop zero-waste packaging solutions. The second calls for Circular Economy and zero waste business models, and the third engages designers to come up with creative and impactful ways of illustrating the scale of the plastics pollution problem. The goal of the challenge is to highlight both the breadth of the problem and the power of collective action. Its results are set to be released later this year.
National Geographic at the Zero Waste Conference
We’re excited to have Valerie Craig with us at #ZWC19, to provide a big-picture perspective on plastics and to set the stage for a solutions-focused discussion on Day 2 of the conference.
Whether you’re totally new to the concept or an industry veteran, the Zero Waste Conference in collaboration with the National Zero Waste Council strikes a balance between theory and action. The conference is your guide to the people, ideas and actions that are having the biggest impact.
2019 Zero Waste Conference:
Mobilizing for Success in the Circular Economy
October 30 – 31, 2019
Vancouver Convention Centre (999 Canada Place)