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Science to Enable Sustainable Plastics: The release of a white paper from the Chemical Sciences and Society Summit

Center for Research and Development Strategy

On June 3, 2020, the Royal Society of Chemistry released a white paper from the Chemical Sciences and Society Summit (CS3), which was held at the Burlington House of the Royal Society of Chemistry, London, UK from November 10 to 13, 2019. The white paper summarized the recommendations from the summit as four major research challenges that will be critical for the future. They are as follows:

  • Understand the impact of plastics throughout their life cycles
  • Develop new sustainable plastics
  • Closed loop plastics recycling
  • Understand and control plastic degradation.

CS3 is a symposium brought together by top-level scientists in the field of chemistry with the aim of discussing the most daunting challenges that the world faces, in order to find solutions and disseminate their outcomes to the public. The symposium members comprised ten organizations that are major chemical societies and funders in the United Kingdom, China, Germany, the United States, and Japan.

Although the United States could not attend the 2019 CS3, the other four nations convened. The participants from Japan were Professor Takahara Atsushi of Kyushu University, a leader of the Japanese delegation; Professor Satoh Kotaro of Tokyo Institute of Technology; Dr. Numata Keiji, Team Leader of RIKEN; Professor Yoshioka Toshiaki of Tohoku University; Professor Hinata Hirofumi of Ehime University; Dr. Sawamoto Mitsuo, the Executive Director of the Chemical Society of Japan; Dr. Miyashita Satoshi, Fellow of JST-CRDS; and Dr. Nakamura Ryoji, Fellow of JST-CRDS.

Plastics are used for various purposes in the modern world and have become indispensable materials for society. For example, plastics are used in containers to keep our food fresh and safe, essential components of cars and mobile phones, and products that enable medical advancements and protect humans, such as masks, personal protective equipment, artificial organs, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). However, the plastics that we produce and discard cause environmental pollution, and the environmental impacts of microplastics and nano-plastics are becoming the critical issues.

To resolve these issues using chemistry and to realize sustainable plastics, CS3 held workshops on four major research challenges: New plastics, Recyclability of plastics, Degradation of plastics, and Measurement of the impact of plastics under the overall theme “Science to Enable Sustainable Plastics.” The white paper was summarized on the basis of discussions in these workshops and the outcomes of the CS3 meeting through contributions of participants, including Japanese researchers.

Furthermore, JST CRDS released STRATEGIC PROPOSAL: Plastics Strategy in a Sustainable Society---Strategic approach to research and development for environmentally sound management of plastic wastes in March 2020, which was written by Dr. Nakamura and Dr. Miyashita of JST-CRDS in light of the discussion outcomes of CS3.

The white paper Science to Enable Sustainable Plastics is available from the following link.

Links to Related Organizations:
The Chemical Society of Japan: (in Japanese)
Kyushu University:
RIKEN: (in Japanese)
Tokyo Institute of Technology: (in Japanese)
Ehime University: (in Japanese)

JST CRDS STRATEGIC PROPOSAL: Plastics Strategy in a Sustainable Society―Strategic approach to research and development for environmentally sound management of plastic wastes(March, 2020) :