Event Calendar

Monday, June 25, 2029

On Demand: The Changing Fate of Plastics in the Environment

Start Date: 6/27/2024 8:00 AM PDT
End Date: 6/25/2029 5:00 PM PDT

Organization Name: Washington Defense Trial Lawyers

Maggie Sweeney
Email: maggie@wdtl.org
Phone: (206) 749-0319

Sponsor: Exponent

Credit Card Payments Only

WDTL Members: $30

Non Members: $60

1 WSBA CLE credit

You are purchasing an on demand video.  
Following registration, you will receive an email with a link to the video and instructions for obtaining CLE Credit.  You are responsible for submitting your CLE credit.

Plastic pollution is a growing concern, evidenced by consumer pressure, the growing body of scientific literature detailing its fate and effects, and an increasing number of existing and proposed regulations and litigation. These new developments are beginning to shift monetary responsibility for plastic waste from consumers and municipalities to producers. Passed regulations in states and proposed national level measures impose substantial producer taxes on virgin plastic resin use. The United Nations is currently moderating an international plastic waste treaty that may significantly alter the landscape of plastic waste. Litigation has drawn increased attention to the use of recyclability and other end of life sustainability claims in addition to the producer’s roles and responsibilities for plastic waste.

Intense research and emerging regional and national policies focus on the potential environmental and economic impacts of plastic debris in oceans, lakes, and rivers, the accumulation of plastic particles in biota, and the role of micro- and nanoplastics (MP and NP) in food chain transfer of additive (e.g., plasticizers and dyes) and extrinsic contaminants (e.g., polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides) that may sorb to plastics in the environment. However, substantial challenges remain in understanding and implementing technologies that facilitate minimization of persistent plastic waste though decreased used, material reuse and recycling, and (bio)degradation pathways in the current plastic economy. This presentation discusses innovative solutions for navigating this evolving marketplace.

Key takeaways:
  • New regulations are focused on the treatment of plastic waste. New requirements for labeling, recyclability, or compostability of new products, reduction in amount of plastic per application and the actual take back and rates of recycling are part of a rapidly evolving landscape.
  • The fiscal responsibility for plastic waste is shifting from consumers to producers with the introduction of new regulations and taxes characterized as Extended Producer Responsibility laws. These potential taxes create significant financial incentives for producers to examine their use of plastic materials.  
  • Research on the effects of MPs and NPs is in its infancy. Our current understanding of the potential effects of MPs and NP in the environment is highly uncertain, and efforts to characterize the risks of plastics must account for the huge variability in the types and distribution of plastics in the environment, as well as the important differences between laboratory and field exposures.
  • Nonetheless, enhanced consumer awareness regarding plastic pollution is driving legislative initiatives and litigation, and legislative bodies are developing standard protocols for quantifying and reporting microplastic content in products and in the environment.
  • Litigation is in process that tests adherence to these new regulations and the definitions of recycling and responsibility for plastic waste.
Speakers: Susan Kane Driscoll, Christopher White, Konrad Kulacki, and Andrew Worthen

Susan Kane Driscoll
Dr. Kane Driscoll is a Senior Managing Scientist in the Ecological and Biological Sciences Practice at Exponent, Inc. Dr. Kane Driscoll is an ecotoxicologist with over 30 years of experience in the application of risk assessment methods for evaluating the potential effects of environmental stressors. She works on issues related to oil spills, industrial releases, and injuries to aquatic and terrestrial resources. Dr. Kane Driscoll has conducted expert reviews for various industrial clients and trade associations related to claims of environmental fate and effects of commercial products, including various plastics and pavement coatings.

Christopher White
Dr. White is a senior managing scientist in the Polymer Science and Materials Chemistry Practice at Exponent, Inc. Dr. White is a recognized expert in polymers, polymer formations, additives (including PFAS), and how those formulations are modified by outdoor exposure.   This expertise enables him to provide solutions to complex issues related to assessing durability, failure, degradation, sustainability, and climate change effects on materials and assets exposed to weathering.  Dr. White has a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from the University of Maryland.

Konrad Kulacki
Dr. Kulacki is a Managing Scientist in the Ecological and Biological Sciences Practice at Exponent, Inc. Dr. Kulacki uses his nearly 20 years of experience in aquatic ecology, chemistry, toxicology, and risk assessment to help clients with their complex environmental risks and responsibilities. He balances his work between litigation support (e.g., legacy contaminant issues, CWA, NRD and toxic tort) and proactive projects, including regulatory compliance and understanding the changing scientific, legislative, and litigation landscape of emerging contaminants.

Andrew Worthen
Dr. Worthen is a Managing Engineer in the Polymer Science and Materials Chemistry Practice at Exponent, Inc.  Dr. Worthen provides product stewardship consulting services to a wide range of industrial clients, leveraging his knowledge of chemistry, physics, and engineering principles. He consults on topics including risk assessment, regulatory support, material selection, product design and development, mechanical and chemical testing, failure analysis, and contaminant identification and quantification.

Online Registration

Registration Opens
6/27/2024 8:00 AM

Registration Closes
6/25/2029 5:00 PM

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