Peak Plastic

The Rise or Fall of Our Synthetic World

by Jack Buffington


By the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

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Cover image for Peak Plastic

November 2018


Pages 152
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Current Events and Issues/Environment
  • Award Winner!




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Shows why plastics, in aggregate, have become a toxin to humans, wildlife, and the planet, and proposes novel solutions that involve neither traditional recycling nor giving up plastic.

"Plastics!" In the 50 years since Dustin Hoffman's character in The Graduate was instructed that this was the career field of the future, we have not been able to escape this ubiquitous but poorly understood material. Author Jack Buffington argues that the plastics crisis is careening toward a tipping point from which there will be no return. There is still time, however, to do something about this crisis if we have the imagination and the will to move away from the failed policies of the past.

This book is the first to propose a new model for linking our synthetic world to the natural one, rather than seeking to treat them as separate entities. The key is supply chain innovation. Buffington presents five market-based solutions based on this principle that will allow consumers to continue to use plastic, which has in many ways enabled our way of life. Alongside these proposed solutions, he also addresses the proliferation of plastic as we know it—growth that, if left unchecked, will lead to a "planetary crisis," according to the United Nations—and considers how the material itself might be adapted for a sustainable future.


  • Provides a realistic solution for our use of plastic: not to eliminate it, but to innovate it
  • Views plastic not only as a known environmental and health hazard but as a material critical to our future and therefore worth revising for future use
  • Explains what we must do—and by when—in order to be able to keep using plastic without harming the planet or our health
  • Shows the links between the environmental, toxicological, and socioeconomic challenges in our use of plastic, and how these dangers can be remedied by supply chain innovation
  • Introduces two significant disruptive innovations that if implemented, will save us from the growing problem posed by synthetics
Author Info

Jack Buffington is responsible for warehousing and fulfillment for MillerCoors, the second largest beer manufacturer in the United States. His professional background includes leadership positions in the fields of supply chain, operations, information technology, and finance across the consulting and consumer products sectors, both domestically and internationally. Professor of Supply Chain Management at University College and the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, Buffington earned a PhD in Industrial Marketing/Supply Chain Management at the Luleå University of Technology in Luleå, Sweden. He is author of several books, among them Praeger's The Recycling Myth.



"Given the crucial importance of this topic and the author's insightful approach, this well-written volume has much to offer students and specialists at all levels...Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic levels."Choice


2019 Choice Outstanding Academic Title — Choice

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