Hi, welcome to the Ecocyclable website.

We are a community deeply concerned about plastic pollution, but we are not anti-plastic. There are greater than 600 billion pounds of plastics produced annually worldwide, which is a testament to their utility and cost-effectiveness. Our goal is to facilitate the processes by which the use of environmentally harmful plastics and additives can be reduced, and encourage the development of environmentally preferable alternatives.

Plastics are incredibly useful – the big problem is what happens when they are no longer being used. They don’t simply go away, even when they degrade into pieces so small you can’t really see them.  In fact, this “microplastic” stage may be where they are the most dangerous. Depending on the composition, plastics can be extraordinarily persistent in the environment. They adsorb organic toxins, are consumed in the food chain, and tend to accumulate in the bodies of living organisms (including you, the reader). In many cases, degradation of the plastic is not even desirable, as the plastic additives (e.g., stabilizers, plasticizers) can be far more toxic.

As the concerns about plastic pollution become more widely recognized and understood, we anticipate an abundance of future legislation governing plastics.  Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to:  (i) assimilate all of the available scientific information, (ii) recognize and contextualize uncertainties regarding all that remains unknown, and (iii) try to convert all of that into plain language laws that would encourage environmentally benign products.  Accordingly, we believe there is a need for a scientifically informed standard that obviates the need for legislators and regulators (assisted by interest groups) to re-define environmentally friendly materials for each successive piece of legislation or regulation in different jurisdictions.

We have proposed a new standard, called Ecocyclable, which we hope will be widely used by policymakers to facilitate efficient policymaking.  We encourage the scientific, business, environmental, and political communities to join with us to improve the definition.  On that note, if you are interested in helping to refine the standard, please contact us at ecocyclable@wm.edu.

A paper describing the Ecocyclable standard and rationale was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.