One of the most pressing issues of today is the impact that climate change will have on our daily lives if we don’t drastically reduce our carbon emissions in the coming years. The largest contributor to carbon emissions is the fossil fuel industry, which is intimately linked to the growing plastics industry. Plastics Engineering, a profession in the plastics industry, involves the processing, design, development, manufacturing, and application of polymeric materials in engineering settings . As an emerging Plastics Engineer, the predictions I hear about our Earth are deeply troubling, and I frequently wonder whether I am pursuing a sustainable, ethical profession.
Plastic pollution is one of the most critical problems our society faces. The consequences of plastic pollution can be observed in every corner of the world. Ocean garbage patches, twice the size of Texas, are currently floating in the Pacific Ocean. Furthermore, we consume at least 7,000 microplastics per million from the dust floating in the air, which settles on our food. The future of plastic waste does not forecast a solution to this growing plastic pollution problem. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, scientists estimate that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.