WASHINGTON – The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) today published a report that analyzes scientific data on the environmental impacts of plastics and finds plastics to be more sustainable than alternative materials when life cycle assessments are taken into consideration. The report, authored by environmental scientist Kenneth Green and titled Plastics and Sustainability, further finds that eliminating plastics would be detrimental to ongoing sustainability efforts and that enhancing recycling systems is a practical solution.
“Too often we see groups criticize plastics using unscientific information. The report released today summarizes what data has indicated for years: plastic is lighter and more durable than alternatives, and it has a smaller environmental footprint,” said Tony Radoszewski, President & CEO of PLASTICS. “Switching to alternatives would not only harm an industry that employs almost a million Americans, but it would also harm our environment and our well-being.”
Plastics and Sustainability examined numerous life cycle assessments to determine differences in methodologies measuring the sustainability of different materials, including steel, aluminum, glass, and others. The report acknowledges that plastics’ sustainability can and should continue to improve over time.
“Assessing sustainability has to include plastic’s impacts on the physical environment as well as the climate, including the production of plastics from fossil fuels, and disposal of plastic waste into the environment. But we must take care in choosing alternatives,” said author Kenneth Green. “Comparison studies and common sense tell us that alternative materials will also produce environmental impacts, quite possibly worse than the plastics they replace.”
Plastics and Sustainability is consistent with reports that have looked at compilations of scientific life cycle assessments. One such study from University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, published in 2020, found that plastic has fewer environmental impacts than single-use glass, indicating that the increasing trend to substitute single-use plastic packaging with single-use glass-based packaging is “particularly troublesome” from a sustainability perspective.
Read the full report HERE
About Plastics Industry Association
The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) is the only organization that supports the entire plastics supply chain, representing nearly one million workers in the $395 billion U.S. industry. Since 1937, PLASTICS has been working to make its members and the industry more globally competitive while advancing recycling and sustainability. To learn more about PLASTICS’ education initiatives, industry-leading insights and events, networking opportunities and policy advocacy and the largest plastics trade show in the Americas, NPE: The Plastics Show, visit plasticsindustry.org.