ENV 3001 – Global Learning (GL) Assignment Paper.

ENV 3001 – Global Learning (GL) Assignment Paper.

This assignment provides a brief background on materials use and waste management.  There are three topics provided.  Please select one topic only.

Topic 1:  Environmental challenges

Topic 2: Persistent waste materials in the environment (e.g., plastics, e-waste)

Topic 3: Endangered elements. ENV 3001 – Global Learning (GL) Assignment Paper.

The GL assignment should be submitted via Canvas before the last class of the semester (Thursday June 12, 2020).



Select only one of the topics and discuss the issue and develop an overview of the problem as described in the Topic below.  Your report should address the points as indicated, estimated of quantities, materials and other relevant information.

Please limit your report to 2-4 pages (appendices are OK) including figures, tables, calculations, references.


There has been significant technological advancements since 1950s.  Technology adoption rates and product replacement cycles create challenges for materials supply and management of discarded products.


Topic 1: Environmental challenges

Select only one of the following challenges:

  1. Fresh water shortages
  2. Aging infrastructure
  3. Energy demands
  4. Global warming
  5. New diseases
  6. Security
  7. Waste management
  8. Food production and distribution
  9. Livable communities
  10. Sustainability
  11. Climate change and adaptation
  12. Resource depletion


Topic 2: Persistent waste materials in the environment (e.g., plastics)

Decomposition characteristics of plastics in the environment depends on both the conditions in the environment and the characteristics of the polymeric material.  Since majority of the plastics present in MSW are sensitive to photo oxidation, they can remain stable for longer times in the landfill in comparison to their transformation behavior when they are exposed to sunlight (i.e., floating on the sea surface). ENV 3001 – Global Learning (GL) Assignment Paper.A wide variety of chemical additives are incorporated into the plastics.  Some additives are designed to stabilize the polymer and make it more resistant for degradation. For example, anti-oxidants and stabilizers used as additives inhibit the degradation of the polymer, while pro-oxidant additives make the plastics more sensitive towards degradation.  Presence of starch increases biodegradability of plastics; however, biodegradation of starch will not work without a pro-oxidant. The additives used in plastics are usually not covalently bonded to the polymer. Therefore, they can leach out from the plastic material as it degrades. Thus degradation rates of the plastics (even those with added starch) depends strongly on the type and amount of additives used. The half-life of most plastics is over 100 years in landfills or the environment.


PP: polypropylene, PS:polystyrene, PET: polyethylene terephthalate,  LDPE: lowdensity polyethylene, HDPE: high density polyethylene PVC: polyvinyl chloride

Select one type of plastic (PP: polypropylene, PS:polystyrene, PET: polyethylene terephthalate,  LDPE: lowdensity polyethylene, HDPE: high density polyethylene PVC: polyvinyl chloride) and discuss:

  1. where it is used
  2. how much is used and discarded
  3. provide preliminary calculations for use and discarding rates of the specific type of plastic. ENV 3001 – Global Learning (GL) Assignment Paper.


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