Accelerating Innovation for California’s New Plastics Economy

Rob Chase, Founder and President of NewGen Surgical, will participate in a roundtable discussion exploring the role of public policy to advance commercialization and adoption of innovation, and to discuss emerging economic opportunities for the New Plastics Economy.

Plastic pollution is a well-recognized multi-faceted problem currently dominating the public discourse. Plastic pollution has broad economic impacts on California’s ocean and coastal resources, agriculture and human health.

The search for solutions is on and at the forefront is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation with its New Plastics Economy — an ambitious initiative to build momentum towards a plastics system that works, guided by the principles of the circular economy, delivering better economic and environmental impacts. The New Plastics Economy aims to move away from the current ‘take, make, dispose’ plastics economy towards one based on circular economy principles. The vision for such a system is that plastics are kept in the economy and out of the environment. It’s about thinking of an interdependent system rather than a series of isolated parts and being open to new ideas and experiments, to identify those innovations that can scale to shift the market.

The global transition towards a New Plastics Economy opens up numerous innovation opportunities. A key driver of economic growth, innovation can fill the multiple technology and design gaps in the current plastic value chain. Priority areas to be served by innovation have been identified in all segments of the current plastics value chain by industry participants. Meeting their needs requires a robust, thriving innovation eco-system with thousands of early stage innovators that compete, grow and outperform each other. With its unique appreciation for innovation, California is well positioned to lead this global innovation effort and to become the home for the New Plastics Economy Innovation Center.

The New Plastics Economy innovators and entrepreneurs need much more than funding. They need access to research on chemicals, polymers and toxicity, guidance by industry and science, collaborative development by interdisciplinary teams, and access to material innovation equipment to test materials properties and prototype in a pre-competitive space. To provide this foundation, Think Beyond Plastic in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is opening the first New Plastics Economy Innovation Center at California State University at Monterey Bay. The New Plastics Economy Innovation Center will support, grow and strengthen the innovation eco-system for the New Plastics Economy by bringing together innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, businesses, investors and consumer advocates to facilitate a multidisciplinary approach to key innovation challenges.

New Plastics Economy: A policy round table
June 27, 2018
Sacramento State Capitol


  • John Laird, CA Secretary of Natural Resources
  • Andrew Morlet, the CEO of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – economic opportunities in New Plastics Economy and global policy initiatives;
  • Daniella Russo, CEO of Think Beyond Plastic Foundation – supporting the innovation ecosystem – innovators and businesses;
  • Scott Komar, VP Sustainability at Driscolls – agricultural leaders and policy initiatives supporting their adoption of sustainable packaging;
  • Ian DerWeerdt – Full Cycle Bioplastic, Think Beyond Plastic 2018 cohort
  • Julie Corbett – Ecologic Brands, Think Beyond Plastic 2016 cohort
  • Rob Chase – NewGen Surgical, Think Beyond Plastic 2015 cohort