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Innovating the Business of Plastics
The Great Simplification #89 with Sian Sutherland
Decades ago, the world’s attitude towards plastics was exemplified in the 1967 film ‘The Graduate’ where the young Benjamin Braddock was given advice to go into one shiny, new, and promising industry: plastics. Today, plastics have become an omnipresent part of modern life and have created an overwhelming waste issue and threat to human health.
This week, I’m pleased to be joined by Sian Sutherland, a leader in the movement towards reducing the overconsumption of plastic and its waste. The modern era is dependent on fossil fuels for many reasons - one of the most covertly ubiquitous ones being plastic. Everyday we are surrounded by it - encasing our food, woven in the threads of our clothes, and even permeating into the water that we drink. Simultaneously, more and more human health and environmental consequences of plastic pollution are being discovered, calling for the need to be more thoughtful in the way we use this indestructible material.
Sian Sutherland is Co-founder of A Plastic Planet, one of the most recognised and respected organizations tackling the plastic crisis. More recently, she also co-founded PlasticFree, the first materials and systems solutions platform, empowering the 160m global creatives to design waste out at the source. Sian was awarded the Female Marketer of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, and British Inventor of the Year. In 2023 at the UN Plastics Treaty negotiations (INC2), in partnership with Plastic Soup Foundation, A Plastic Planet launched the Plastic Health Council, bringing expert scientists to the negotiating process with the irrefutable proof of plastic chemicals impact on human health.
How do we begin to break off this addiction to the convenience and utility of plastics? How does this connect to the larger implications of a society embedded in a linear, consumption based system dependent on growth? What role can industry, governments, and individuals each play in creating structural shifts to reduce our reliance on plastic - and ultimately return to a slower, more circular way of life?
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In case you missed it…
Last week, Professor Robert Sapolsky joined me to discuss the structure of the human brain and its implication on behavior and our ability to change. Dr. Sapolsky also unpacked how the innate quality of a biological organism shaped by evolution and the surrounding environment - meaning all animals, including humans - leads him to believe that there is no such thing as free will, at least how we think about it today. How can our species manage the mismatch of our evolutionary biology with our modern day challenges - and navigate through a ‘determined’ future?
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