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Neil Tangri

Senior Research Fellow at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
Chapter Member: Bay Area SSN

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About Neil

Dr. Tangri's research focuses on waste, climate change, and plastics. Dr. Tangri's work covers both the physical science aspects as well as policy questions, particularly in the international policy arena. He serves as Senior Science and Policy Director at GAIA and is an inaugural board member of the National Marine Debris Foundation.

In the News

Quoted by Douglas Main in "Think That Your Plastic Is Being Recycled? Think Again.," MIT Technology Review, October 12, 2023.
Guest on Inside Edition, October 9, 2023.
Quoted by James Bruggers in "UN Agency Provides Path to 80 Percent Reduction in Plastic Waste. Recycling Alone Won’t Cut It," Inside Climate News, May 17, 2023.


"ENSO’s Shrinking Twentieth-Century Footprint Revealed in a Half-Millennium Coral Core From the South Pacific Convergence Zone" (with R. B. Dunbar, B. K. Linsley, and D. M. Mucciarone). Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology 33, no. 11 (2018): 1136-1150.

Analyzes an extremely long coral core from the central South Pacific that reveals a "null zone" (an area of the Pacific little influenced by El Niño-Southern Oscillation, as it lies at the pivot point between the dipole ends). Findings show that subtle changes in the location of this null zone over 5 centuries indicate that ENSO's footprint has shrunk eastward over the 20th century.

"Waste Incinerators Undermine Clean Energy Goals" PLOS Climate 2, no. 6 (2023).

Analyzes the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced from incinerators, and finds that incinerators produce more emissions than any other energy source. Argues that their inclusion as "renewable energy" undermines clean energy goals and perpetuates environmental injustice.

"Zero Waste to Zero Emissions: How Reducing Waste Is a Climate Gamechanger," (with Mariel Viella, Doun Moon, and Natasha Naayem), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, October 2022.

Models the climate impacts of adopting zero waste in 8 diverse cities. Findings include: the zero waste model can reduce waste sector greenhouse gas emissions by 84% on average; composting is critical to deep methane reductions while recycling can make waste a "net negative" sector; single-use plastic bans are important adaptation measures to reduce flooding and disease vectors.

"Trash Taxonomy Tool: Harmonizing Classification Systems Used To Describe Trash in Environments" (with Hannah Hapich, Win Cowger, and Andrew Gray et al.). Microplastics and Nanoplastics 2, no. 15 (2022).

Addresses the lack of a widely adopted trash typology system for monitoring and addressing trash (mismanaged solid waste) pollution worldwide, and develops a standardized framework (the Trash Taxonomy Tool) which can be used to enhance, create, and compare trash surveys.

"Methane Matters: A Comprehensive Approach to Methane Mitigation," Changing Markets Foundation, the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, March 2022.

Highlights the most actionable steps governments can take to reduce methane emissions. Findings show that waste prevention, source-separation of organic discards, and other methods can reduce solid waste methane emissions by as much as 95% by 2030.

"Wasted Opportunities: A Review of International Commitments for Reducing Plastic and Waste-Sector GHG Emissions," (with John Ribeiro-Broomhead), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, October 2021.

Evaluates waste sector actions and targets found in Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. Demonstrates that few countries focus on waste (a missed opportunity) and some promote counterproductive policies that will lock in long-term greenhouse gas emissions.

"Zero Waste and Economic Recovery: The Job Creation Potential of Zero Waste Solutions," (with John Ribeiro-Broomhead), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, February 2021.

Evaluates the job generation potential of zero waste initiatives, and finds that waste management strategies that produce the best environmental outcomes also generate the most jobs. Recycling, repair, remanufacturing, and composting generate on average 200 jobs per ton of waste as landfill and incineration.

"12ish Things To Know About Climate Science: A Primer for Policy-Making," (with Richard Nevle and Aaron Strong), January 2018.

Presents the fundamental, high-level findings of climate science that are most relevant to the international climate change negotiations in the form of an advanced undergraduate primer.

"Waste Gasification & Pyrolysis: High Risk, Low Yield Processes for Waste Management," (with Monica Wilson), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, March 2017.

Analyzes decades of deployment of "high technology" waste-to-energy technologies, and finds that they have largely failed for a combination of technical and economic reasons.

"On the Road to Zero Waste: Successes and Lessons From Around the World.," (with Cecilia Allen, Virali Gokaldas, Anne Larracas, Leslie Ann Minot, Maeva Morin, Burr Tyler, and Bill Walker), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, June 2012.

Provides case studies of 9 cities' implementation of varying zero waste models.