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Wallace Stegner Center 26th Annual Symposium – “The Plastics Paradox: Societal Boon or Environmental Bane?”

March 25, 2021 @ 8:00 am - March 26, 2021 @ 2:30 pm

The Wallace Stegner Center’s 26th annual symposium on “The Plastics Paradox: Societal Boon or Environmental Bane?” to be held on Thursday to Friday, March 25-26, 2021, will be held virtually, bringing together speakers and attendees from across the country. The program will explore the role of plastics in the modern world; the environmental impacts of plastic production, use, and disposal; plastics and the law; human health and plastics; and the ongoing debate about the need, viability, and desirability of alternatives to plastics. The opening keynote on day one will consider the life cycle of plastic, including the plastics disposal dilemma. The Stegner Lecture on day two will place plastics in the larger context of our consumptive lifestyles and will be followed by two facilitated panel discussions—with audience dialogue—about global, national, and local solutions to the plastics paradox. For a complete list of speakers and their bios click here »

10.5 hours CLE total.
Day 1 – 5.5 hours CLE credit.
Day 2 – 5 hours CLE credit.

Register online »

Registration Fees:
$100 General Public, if received before March 15
$125 General Public, if received on March 15 or later
$75 Seniors (62+), University and College Faculty & Staff, Government, Nonprofit, if received before March 15
$100 Seniors (62+), University and College Faculty & Staff, Government, Nonprofit, if received on March 15 or later
$10 Students

We will be using the Whova platform for this conference. For any questions contact Kris at StegnerCenter@law.utah.edu.



Thursday, March 25 via Zoom

8:30 a.m. – Welcome and Introductory Remarks

8:40 a.m. – KEYNOTE: Plastic: Too much of a good thing?

Roland Geyer, Professor, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

9:30 a.m. – Plastics in the Anthropocene

Anthony L. Andrady, Adjunct Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh NC

10:15 a.m. – Break

10:30 a.m. – Plastics and the Law

Robert W. Adler, Distinguished Professor, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
Michelle Bender, Ocean Campaigns Director, Earth Law Center; IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, Member; Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, Executive Committee
Jim Puckett, Founder and Executive Director, Basel Action Network
Matt Seaholm, Vice President, Government Affairs, Plastics Industry Association 

12:00 p.m. – Break

12:15 p.m. – Photo Essay: Plastics in the Natural World

Br’ette J. Vanhouten, Photographer

1:00 p.m. – Break

1:15 p.m. – Plastics and the Environment

Janice Brahney, Assistant Professor, Utah State University Department of Watershed Sciences
Anela Choy, Assistant Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego
Sherri A. Mason, Professor of Chemistry & Sustainability Coordinator, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

2:30 p.m. – Break

2:45 p.m.  – Plastics and Health

Scott M. Belcher, Professor of Biological Sciences, Center for Human Health and the Environment, North Carolina State University
Carmen Messerlian, Assistant Professor of Environmental Reproductive, Perinatal, and Pediatric Epidemiology, Departments of Epidemiology and Environmental Health; Director, Scientific Early Life Environmental Health & Development (SEED) Program, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

4:00 p.m. – Closing Remarks

Friday, March 26 via Zoom

8:30 a.m. – Welcome and Introductory Remarks

8:40 a.m. – Wallace Stegner Center Lecture: Overcoming Consumerism for a Better You and a Better Planet

Joshua Becker, Founder of Becoming Minimalist

9:30 a.m. – Break

9:45 a.m. – National and Global Solutions

Alan Eastman, Ph.D., retired research chemist
Rolf Halden
, Professor and Founding Director, Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering, The Biodesign Institute, OneWaterOneHealth.org, AquaVitas, LLC, Arizona State University
Ramani Narayan, University Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Sciences, Michigan State University
Michael Waas, 
Vice President of North America, TIPA

11:00 a.m. – Plastics in Our Community: Local and Individual Solutions

Chris Bell, Waste & Recycling Division Director, Department of Sustainability, Salt Lake City Corporation
Catherine Plume, Principal, BlueGreenPlume, LLC
Valinda Shirley, Executive Director, Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency
Rebecca Smith, Environmental Scientist III, Utah Department of Environmental Quality

12:15 p.m. – Break

12:30 p.m. – Discussions: Solutions for Communities and Individuals

2:30 p.m. – Closing Remarks


The King’s English Bookshop is joining us as the bookseller for this event.




For questions about this event contact StegnerCenter@law.utah.edu.

This event is funded by the R. Harold Burton Foundation, Cultural Vision Fund and The Nature Conservancy in Utah.


March 25, 2021 @ 8:00 am
March 26, 2021 @ 2:30 pm
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