WASHINGTON– The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) today responded to a new report from Beyond Plastics, The New Coal: Plastics and Climate Change. Common misconceptions perpetuated by biased studies such as this are addressed at ThisIsPlastics.com.
“It’s no surprise that an organization named Beyond Plastics would cherry-pick data to fit their narrative in order to raise more money for themselves and attack the work being done by nearly one million Americans in the process.
Plastic is lighter and more durable than alternatives and reduces the overall weight of products. Lighter products require less fuel to transport. That’s a fact. Reduced weight translates to a smaller environmental footprint by lowering energy use and carbon emissions. A 2020 Imperial College of London study reviewed 73 lifecycle assessments, and most showed plastic performs better than alternatives from a carbon perspective. Several of those studies found materials used as alternatives to plastic packaging – such as cotton, glass, or metal– have significantly higher CO2 impact or water usage. The same study concluded that if all plastic bottles used globally were replaced with glass, the additional resulting CO2 emissions would be equivalent to adding about 22 large coal-fired power plants.
Additionally, if plastic packaging were replaced with other materials, waste and energy consumption would double, and weight and costs would quadruple. For example, plastic baby food packaging provides small but significant environmental benefit over glass jars with impacts reduced by 14% to 27% for primary energy and 28% to 31% for global warming. When comparing plastic and glass baby food jars, plastic containers also release fewer carcinogens into the air and send fewer pollutants into waterways when compared to glass jars.
According to a study from University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability published in 2020, numerous life-cycle analyses show plastic has fewer environmental impacts than single-use glass in the majority of environmental impact categories measured. The same study argues that the increasing trend to substitute single-use plastic packaging with single-use glass-based packaging is “particularly troublesome” from a lifecycle energy and greenhouse gas perspective.”
Graphic from Imperial College of London study:
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 $432 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. Connect with PLASTICS on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.