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Toward a Legal Framework for Regulating Microplastics

Toward a Legal Framework for Regulating Microplastics
Thursday, July 23, 2020| 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Program Fees:
Free for Members and Non-Lawyers | $15 for Non-Members
Members of the NYSBA and non-lawyers please call Customer Relations at 212.382.6663 to register. 

Please Note:
All attendees will receive an email confirmation including a zoom invite by 5pm the day before the program with details of how to access the webinar.

The past several years have made clear how extensively plastics pollute our water, soil and landscapes. Plastic pollution goes far beyond what the eye can see, encompassing not only the single-use shopping bags and other disposable items that litter sidewalks and waterways, but also tiny, invisible-to-the-naked-eye microplastics. Microplastics are created as larger plastic discards break down in the environment. We also emit them more directly: plastic "microfibers" are shed from synthetic clothing as it goes through washing machines and small "microbeads" were, until recently, widely available in personal care products.

Microplastics' invisibility underscores the very problem: not only are they hugely disruptive to marine and other ecosystems and species throughout the food chain, studies suggest the average person eats about one credit cards' worth of plastic each week. At the same time, with the ubiquity of microplastics only recently understood, legal tools have failed to properly manage the problem. Drawing from legal frameworks across the international, federal, state and local levels, this program will explore potential legal options for cleaning up existing microplastic pollution and restricting such pollution in the future.

This program will consist of two panel discussions. The first will define the problem, as experts from academia, NGOs and industry discuss the scale and impacts of microplastic pollution globally and in the Hudson River, as well as what impacts certain uses of plastics can have on microplastic pollution. The second panel will discuss legal and regulatory frameworks that may be available to help address the problem of microplastic pollution. This program will supplement a broader report by the Environmental Law Committee and the International Environmental Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association that explores, and provides potential legal solutions to the problem of plastic pollution more generally. 

Nikki Adame-Winningham, Pfizer
Amanda Prentice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Panel One:
Winnie Lau, Senior Officer, Pew Charitable Trusts 
Dr. Joaquim Goes, Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University 
Imari Walker Karega, Doctoral Candidate, Duke University

Panel Two:
Sarah Edwards, Head of New York Office, Eunomia Research & Consulting, Inc. 
Hon. Edward M. Kennedy, Jr., Partner, Epstein Becker Green and former Connecticut State Senator 
Jennie Romer, Legal Associate, Surfrider Foundation 

Sponsoring Committee:
Environmental Law, Kevin Healy & Amy E. Turner, Co-Chairs
International Environmental Law, Michael Burger, Chair

Co-Sponsoring Association:
Environmental and Energy Law Section, of the New York State Bar Association

Related Report:

The Global Problem of Plastic Pollution: What Can New York Do?

New York City Bar Association 42 West 44th St New York, NY 10036 UNITED STATES

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