Dr. Chad Ulven recently showcased his work on plastics at a NDSU Science Café event in downtown Fargo. As part of CSMS, Ulven researches how we can make plastic products more sustainable, with an eye on both the production/recycling cycle and on innovative end-user applications.  He led the Science Café audience through a discussion of why our global use of plastics creates mounting problems, what some of the solutions for addressing this problem may look like, and how he and his team have created a wide range of recyclable plastics applications that are useful and usable from an end-user perspective.

Over the past couple decades, a severe growing concern over the amount of plastic waste pilling up in our oceans, landfills, and scattered across our landscape has emerged. Over 380 million tons of plastic is produced per year worldwide. At our current rate of disposal, it is predicted that by 2050 there will be a greater amount of plastic mass in our oceans than sea life. Evidence of numerous environmental consequences to wildlife, wildlife habitat, and humans have been documented and various organizations have begun to focus specially on addressing ocean plastic, plastic bags, plastic straws, etc. to help remediate these problems. However, is this enough? What else do we need to do? When you finish your leftovers from last night’s restaurant, what do you do (along with all your neighbors) with the polystyrene foam container? Local and regional recyclers of plastics cannot keep up nor handle all of the different types of plastics that can be recycled because of a gross lack of infrastructure and post recycling distribution. This presentation will explore these issues more deeply as well as others related to plastic waste, talk about some potential solutions, but most of all start an important conversation about what we should do next?

Upcoming Science Café events can be found at http://earth.physics.ndsu.nodak.edu/

  • Alena Kubátová, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, Professor in Analytical Chemistry at the University of North Dakota, is a researcher with CSMS and will be giving a Science Café presentation on Tuesday, November 13th