The effects of plastic pollution are becoming more visible and the world is waking up to the reality that plastics are simply not being disposed of properly. Recycling is not working (only 2% of plastics are effectively recycled), yet the corporations producing these unsustainable products continue to promote recycling, knowing full well it will never meet the world's growing consumption of plastic and petroleum derivatives.
The Unmasking Plastic webinar series seeks to go beyond recycling to understand why plastics exist, who is producing them, and the wide-ranging effects on our social, cultural, political, and environmental landscapes. To do this, we will draw upon a diverse group of global experts with wide-ranging experiences and expertise.
This series is generously supported by the Swarovski Foundation, which supports initiatives and organizations working through water sustainability and environmental projects to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment.
Register below to participate in the Plastics and Ocean Health series.
Participants attending at least 7 webinars will earn an Ocean Learning Labs certificate from SOA.
Participants interested in engaging with the Unmasking Plastic Ocean Action Lab should indicate their interest on the form. The Action Lab is for participants actively engaged in combatting the plastic crisis.
Webinars are hosted on Zoom and recordings will be posted here as they are available.
CTO & Co-founder, The Great Bubble Barrier
Philip Ehrhorn created The Great Bubble Barrier a device that helps catch plastic waste before it flows into the ocean by pumping bubbles that combine with the natural flow of the water to push plastic to the side, where it can be collected by garbage boats (MaterialConneXion).
"Fighting against plastic pollution with research, technical solutions and prevention measures.
He has committed myself to the protection of the marine and aquatic environment."
Associate professor Andrej KRŽAN PhD
Dr. Kržan graduated as B.Sc. in Chemistry at Ljubljana University, Slovenia and received his Ph.D. in chemical sciences from Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA. After graduation he joined the Department for Polymer Chemistry and Technology at the National Institute of Chemistry, Ljubljana Slovenia where he turned his attention to environmental aspects of polymers and plastics. Topics included chemical plastics recycling, biodegradable and biobased polymers, computer simulations of unstable polymers. In this period he joined the ICS-UNIDO centre in Trieste, Italy as an expert on biodegradable plastics, which gave him global exposure to the plastics and plastic waste management practices. In 2010 he helped establish the Center of Excellence for Polymers Chemistry and Technology (PoliMat) in Ljubljana, Slovenia where he served as acting director. After that he returned to the National Institute of Chemistry where in 2011 he started as coordinator of a series of international EU funded projects on sustainable plastics (2011, PLASTiCE), marine litter and microplastics in the Adriatic Sea (2013, DeFishGear), sustainable packaging (2017, BIOCOMPACK-CE).
In 2019 Prof. Krzan joined the startup company PlanetCare developing microfibre filtering solutions for washing machines as co-founder and chief scientist. He participates in R&D activities, and coordinates collaboration with research/academic partners.
Prof. Kržan is a lecturer of Waste management at the University of Nova Gorica. He regularly presents aspects of his work at various events and is an author/co-author of a number of research publications and patents.
Founder and President of Oceanworks
Rob Ianelli is the founder and President of Oceanworks, the global marketplace for recycled plastics and sustainable materials. He started his career in developing consumer brands and manufacturing overseas. Having launched several consumer products, he has a unique ability to understand multiple aspects of global supply chains. A serial entrepreneur and experienced founder, Rob has had a diverse career spanning ventures in FinTech, marketing and through a culmination of past experiences, has dedicated his expertise in his next chapter towards solving plastic pollution and scaling recycled plastics adoption for brands, manufacturers and consumers.
Co-founder and CEO of Oceanworks
Vanessa Coleman is co-founder and CEO of Oceanworks, the global marketplace for recycled plastic materials and products. We are leading the effort to connect the global demand for sustainable materials with trusted suppliers. Prior to Oceanworks Vanessa was founding CEO of FINsix Corporation. As CEO of FINsix Vanessa raised $20M in over 3 rounds of financing; oversaw product development and team formation from R&D through product release of, Dart, a benchmark laptop charger; closed a multi-million dollar contract with the largest laptop OEM; and stood up a high-volume production line centered in Dongguan China. FINsix was selected as an Inc 35 Under 35 company and Vanessa was selected a Forbes 30-under-30. Vanessa also co-founded of Saha Global, an NGO committed to getting the cleanest water to the poorest people, and remains an active member of the board of directors. Vanessa holds a M.Eng. from MIT, MBA from MIT Sloan, and a B.A. in from Dartmouth College.
Principal Scientist, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Prof Linda Godfrey is a Principal Scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Extraordinary Professor at Northwest University in South Africa, and holds a PhD inEngineering from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
With over 20-years of sector experience, she manages the Waste Research Development and Innovation (RDI) Roadmap Implementation Unit on behalf of the Department of Science and Innovation, a unit tasked with implementing South Africa’s 10-year Waste RDI Roadmap. She has provided strategic input to a number of local, regional and international waste and circular economy initiatives for the United Nations, European Union, World Bank, South African Government Departments, Academy of Sciences, International Solid Waste Association, universities and businesses. She lectures internationally on solid waste management in developing countries, including the social, economic and environmental opportunities of “waste” within a circular economy context. She has published extensively in the field.
Founder and CEO Karün
Inspired in Patagonia and always being connected to nature, Thomas has been an entrepreneur since he was 18 years old. Convinced in proving through example that it is possible to build an alternative business model; one in harmony with our natural environment.
Throughout his career, he has founded and co-founded different projects that promote a sustainable development: he founded the first sustainability website in Chile: ClanEco. He co-founded the biggest native reforestation campaign in Chile’s history: "Reforestemos Patagonia", now called Reforestemos Foundation (www.reforestemos.cl) and founded the sustainable eyewear brand, Karün (www.karunworld.com).
His entrepreneurships have gotten national and international recognition. Karün sunglasses have been worn by important leaders around the world as a symbol of change and the different point of view we must have in our society.
Thomas has been invited to join the Global Shaper community for the World Economic Forum and has also been recognized by different organizations for his leadership role in the transition towards a new economic paradigm: World Bank Summit Speaker 2019, “Extraordinary young people of Latin America 2017” GQ Latin America, speaker at TED Sao Paulo 2017, “Relevant character of Chile 2014” La Tercera newspaper, “100 young leaders of Chile” El Mercurio newspaper 2011, among others.
“A company, should not be an instrument or entity to generate economic profitability. I believe that a company should be an entity to generate social and environmental benefits through economic profitability. This is what we seek to achieve with Karün.”
Policy Officer, Zero Waste Europe
Justine Maillot is policy officer at Zero Waste Europe and policy coordinator of the European NGO coalition Rethink Plastic, part of the Break Free From Plastic movement. Before joining Zero Waste Europe, she was an EU ocean and fisheries policy advisor at Greenpeace for four years and then EU affairs officer at Surfrider Foundation Europe for eighteen months, where she worked on the EU Plastics Strategy and the recently adopted EU legislation on single-use plastics. She has completed her legal training, with a focus on International, European and environmental law.
Co-Founder, Life Out of Plastic - L.O.O.P
Nadia is a biologist from Peru. She is 35 years old and mother of a 1 year old baby boy. In 2011 Co-founded Life Out Of Plastic - L.O.O.P. a Peruvian social enterprise led by women dedicated to raising awareness about plastic pollution in the ocean and promoting responsible consumption. L.O.O.P has worked with thousands of youth across the country and involve private sector in its mission of taking care of the ocean. Through a nation wide bleach clean up campaign, L.O.O.P has collected data and influenced the single-use plastic law working together with the ministry of the environment and other key stakeholders.
Nadia has Diplomas in Social Innovation (Amani institute, Brasil) and Environmental Management (University of Queensland, Australia) and Circular Economy (Berkeley University, US).
Nadia feels an special conection with the ocean and is committed to invest her energy, time and talent to conserve it.
She has worked as a consultant for the minister of the environment in Peru, represented a Triciclos, a B Corp that promote circular economy implementation in the private sector, in WWF Peru as a specialist in Wildlife and Circular Economy of the Marine Program.
Chief Sustainability Officer, Dispatch Goods
Jessica is PhD student in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley, specifically focused on transitioning to zero waste systems. She was the student lead on the Chou Hall Zero Waste Initiative, which oversaw the process of making Chou Hall (Haas School of Business) the first certified platinum-level TRUE Zero Waste academic building in the world, after which she joined Dispatch Goods as their Chief Sustainability Officer.
Peter Wang Hjemdahl
Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, rePurpose
Peter Wang Hjemdahl is a Chinese-Norwegian social entrepreneur, international development strategist, and Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer of rePurpose Global, World's First Plastic Credit Platform dedicated to reducing waste, reviving lives, and restoring nature's balance. Today, it leads a global coalition of people and companies going Plastic Neutral by empowering innovators on the frontlines of tackling ocean plastic pollution and restoring the health of humanity's common habitat.
Zero Waste Guru, Ligeti Bolt
We are Ligeti Bolt, the first package-free grocery shop of Budapest, Hungary. In our two brick and mortar shops, we sell food and non-food products without packaging. Also, we recently opened up a webshop where we offer zero waste tools and natural cosmetics for our customers all over the country.
CTO & Co-founder, The Great Bubble Barrier
Philip Ehrhorn created The Great Bubble Barrier a device that helps catch plastic waste before it flows into the ocean by pumping bubbles that combine with the natural flow of the water to push plastic to the side, where it can be collected by garbage boats (Material ConneXion).
"Fighting against plastic pollution with research, technical solutions and prevention measures.
I have committed myself to the protection of the marine and aquatic environment."
Co-founder and CMO. Sustainability Communicator, Go Zero Waste
Magda Cebrián is the co-founder and CMO of Go Zero Waste, a Barcelona-based startup that creates solutions to enable a Zero Waste life working together with people, companies, and governments both locally and internationally.
They have launched Go Zero Waste app, a mobile application that helps you find plastic-free and low-waste alternatives in local shops around you. It also includes tips and challenges to help you reduce waste in your everyday life.
US Member Engagement Officer, Break Free from Plastic & Reusable LA
Melissa is an activist and educator at heart. A big believer in collaborative work, Melissa has worked with a diverse group of stakeholders to drive change. From grassroots community organizing, citizen science, bilingual educational programming, coalition building, to policy and advocacy work, she brings a diverse skill set and a passion for bridging environmental and social justice issues. As a wife and mother of two, Melissa is dedicated to doing her part in building a sustainable, socially just and equitable future.
Programme Officer, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)'s Cartagena Convention Secretariat
Christopher Corbin is a Programme Officer with the Ecosystems Division of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He is based at the Secretariat for the Cartagena Convention in Kingston, Jamaica, which covers all the countries of the Wider Caribbean Region. Chris is responsible for the Secretariat’s Marine Pollution and Communications Sub-Programmes.
Chris, a Saint Lucian national, has over 30 years of programme and project management experience. He has been involved in the development and implementation of multi-country projects on wastewater management, solid waste management and integrated coastal zone and watershed management. Most recently he coordinated the development of the “State of Convention Area Report on Marine Pollution in the Wider Caribbean Region” and the “Regional Action Plan for Marine Litter Management in the Wider Caribbean”.
Senior Lawyer, Environmental Investigation Agency
Tim Grabiel is an experienced environmental lawyer based in Paris, France. He joined the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in 2011, providing legal and policy advocacy and advice on marine plastic pollution and climate change at the European Union and international levels. Prior to joining EIA, Tim spent 1.5 years working in Brussels and 6 years working in the United States on environmental litigation and legislation.
Tim has extensive experience with governmental and non-governmental organizations on a wide range of environmental issues, which in addition to the above also include renewable energy, waste management, transportation, forests, air quality, energy, water quality, coal mining, biodiversity, and trade. He taught international and trade law as an adjunct professor at Sciences Po-Le Havre in France. Tim is a law graduate of New York University (NYU) School of Law and received his undergraduate degree in Economics/International Area Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is admitted to practice law in England and Wales, the European Union, New York, and California.
Mission Leader, eXXpedition
Sally is a keen environmentalist, adventurer, and ocean advocate. When living in Bali, she saw first-hand the devastating impact and upstream issues around plastic pollution in a developing country. This propelled her to take action, working closely with the local community to educate and raise awareness to bring about change in local waste management systems and behaviors.
In 2018, Sally sailed through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on eXXpedition North Pacific gaining the first-hand experience of the extent of plastic in our oceans and contributing to ‘science at sea’
Research Director and co-founder, 5 Gyres
Marcus Eriksen is the Research Director and co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute. He studies the global distribution and ecological impacts of plastic marine pollution, which has included expeditions sailing through all 5 subtropical gyres, Bay of Bengal, Southern Ocean and inland lakes and rivers -publishing the first global estimate of all plastic of all sizes floating in the world’s oceans in 2015.
Today Eriksen and his team are focused on helping cities worldwide to understand the systems and sources of plastic pollution in their region, then employ solutions to stop the flow from land to sea. When not leading expeditions through plastic seas, he and his family spend much of the summers in the Lake Cretaceous badlands of Wyoming excavating dinosaurs for the science center, LeapLab.org.
Bethanie Carney Almroth
Associate Professor in Ecotoxicology
Dr. Carney Almroth is an associate professor in ecotoxicology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Her research focuses on the environmental effects of plastics and plastic-associated chemicals, using different species of fish for study.
She studies sources of microplastics to the aquatic environment and uses biochemical and physiological methodologies to understand how exposure to microplastics, plastic additives, and environmental chemicals affect fish via different exposure routes. She also works in interdisciplinary research groups addressing environmental pollution and large scale collective action, collaborating with political scientists, economists, behavioral scientists, and legal scholars.
Founder, PlastiCo. Project
Andrea Lema is an activist for the rights of nature. She is the founder of PlastiCo. Project, a local NGO fighting against plastic pollution in Ecuador, she is also owner of Suyana Zero Waste one of the first zero-waste shops in her country. Also, Andrea works as a consultant for environmental projects and sustainable brand development. She is living a zero-waste lifestyle since 2017.
Alicia Mateos-Cárdenas, PhD
Microplastic Pollution Postdoctoral Researcher
Alicia is committed to bring science outside the lab and communicate the facts of plastic pollution to a wider audience. Alicia currently works as a Researcher at University College Cork (Ireland) investigating microplastics and their associated chemicals in deep-sea Irish coral habitats. She recently submitted her Ph.D. thesis entitled “Impacts, Fate and Trophic Transfer of Microplastics in the Freshwater Environment” and published three first-author papers on the interactions between microplastics, aquatic plants, and crustaceans.
She holds a MSc in Wildlife Management and Conservation from the University of Reading (UK) and a BSc in Environmental Science from Universidad de Salamanca (Spain). Apart from her academic experience, in 2016 she volunteered for ‘Ecology Project International Galápagos’ in their Green turtle and Plastic pollution projects. Also, in 2014 she volunteered at ‘BIOS.cv’, a Loggerhead turtle conservation camp in Cape Verde. As a result of these experiences, Alicia has a deep passion for conserving the natural world and fighting against plastic pollution.
Plastic Pollution Expert & Action Lab Facilitator
As a plastic waste expert, she promotes and supports sustainable practices and research by combining her background in natural science, activism, and her passion for healthier oceans. In her research, she addresses ocean challenges through a multi- and cross-sectorial lens, that incorporates international policy and governance as well as technological advances and grassroots movements. She is especially passionate about understanding the knowledge-action interfaces of the global plastic pollution crisis to inform more effective societal responses and institutional change for equity and justice.
Patricia has studied and worked as a Research Assistant at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm University, Sweden), where she researched the feasibility of including plastic within the Planetary Boundaries Framework. She has worked as a Plastic Pollution Expert for GRID-Arendal, a Centre Collaborating with UNEP, investigating about plastic waste trade transboundary movement, the effects of plastic waste. She also had the opportunity to participate and co-authored a 2020 workshop report by GESAMP “Assessing the Risks associated with Plastics and Microplastics in the Marine Environment."
Marine Biologist and TV Host
Danni Washington is a TV host and Science Communicator who is also the first African-American woman to host her own science television series. Currently, Danni is featured as a correspondent on a weekly nationally syndicated CBS series called Mission Unstoppable with host Miranda Cosgrove who is also co-Executive Producer alongside fellow actor Geena Davis. Danni has also hosted other STEM shows including Xploration Nature Knows Best on FOX, Science the $#!* Out Of It for Facebook Watch, Untamed Science for Pearson Publishing and Ocean GEMS. In 2017, Danni was selected as one of the 10 young rising innovators who was profiled in CA Technologies #STEM10 initiative alongside artist Jaden Smith and other rising stars in the field. Danni also served as the 2018 spokesperson of the nation’s largest celebration of STEM at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington D.C. She is a graduate of the University of Miami with a degree in Marine Science & Biology. She is also the co-founder of Big Blue & You, a proficient scuba diver, the co-creator of Sea Youth Rise Up, an inspirational speaker, and a passionate advocate for ocean and planet conservation.
Yuyun Ismawati Drwiega
Senior Advisor & Co-Founder of Nexus3
Yuyun is the Co-Founder and Senior Advisor of Nexus3, formerly known as BaliFokus Foundation, an environmental NGO working towards a just, toxics-free, and sustainable future.
She has broad and rich experiences in urban environmental management issues, climate change, environmental health, toxics and wastes issues. Participatory approach, stakeholders engagement, and systemic changes are the main approaches and tools of her intervention in environmental and health issues. She is a social entrepreneur interested in finding a systemic change to answer environmental problems, mainly through a Public-Private-People Partnerships.
At the global level, she is affiliated with IPEN (International Pollutants Elimination Network), serves as the lead for Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining and the Toxics-Free Future Network: GAIA, WECF, BAN, HCWH, and #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement.
She holds an Environmental Engineering Bachelor degree from ITB Indonesia, and MSc in Environmental Change and Management from the University of Oxford (2010-2011). She is a Goldman Environmental Prize 2009 awardee, LEAD Fellow, Ashoka Fellow, and an Ancora Scholar.
Executive Director, Ecology Center Berkeley
Martin Bourque is committed to sparking change within the environmental and social justice landscape in order to keep the movement fresh, dynamic, and forward thinking. He thrives at the intersection of community movement building, policy development and program implementation. Since 2000, Martin has led the Ecology Center, a community-based organization founded in 1969 and incorporated on Earth Day in 1970. Under Martin's leadership, the Ecology Center has become a high impact engine for change. Martin has spearheaded innovative efforts such as creating a farmers’ market industry group, pioneering electronic food stamp access and incentives at farmers’ markets statewide, and passing the nation’s first Soda Tax.
Martin's previous experience includes promoting sustainable, organic agriculture in Central America, supporting food justice for low-income communities, and fighting policies that allow dangerous pesticide-sprays in urban areas. He has served on the Community Food and Justice Coalition Advisory Committee, The Grassroots Recycling Network Board and the Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling Board (StopWaste).
Martin earned a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies and Environmental Policy from UC Berkeley, and a B.A. in Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior from UC San Diego.
Global Policy Advocate, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)
Sirine works with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives to end plastic pollution.
GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries.
With our work we aim to catalyze a global shift towards environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution.
We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped.
At GAIA, we see waste and its resulting pollution as a symptom of a larger, profit-driven extractive economy, and we promote zero waste as a holistic solution and an economic shift toward justice and sustainability.
The Unmasking Plastic Action Lab is available only to Learning Lab participants who are presently working on the plastic crisis in some capacity; for example, through research, cleanup coordination or advocacy, raising awareness, devising solutions, etc.
If you are interested in enrolling in the Action Lab, please indicate your interest in the enrollment form and you will receive more information.
If you have questions, please contact the Coordinator using the form at the bottom of the page.
Through partnerships with organizations and plastics experts, SOA is developing a comprehensive toolkit to educate and enable action.
Module 1: The Story of Plastic
Module 2: Researching and Communicating Impact
Module 3: Political and Legislative Approaches
Module 4: Reducing Consumption
Module 5: Limiting Waste at The Source
Cleaning up plastic in rivers and beaches is one small but tangible way to address the plastic crisis. To turn education into action, SOA is coordinating cleanups of waterways all over the world. We will add more information here as we work to implement cleanups that meet local restrictions and regulations related to COVID-19.