Study Finds Plastics Reduce Environmental Costs Nearly Four Times vs Alternatives

- July 26, 2016 -

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) shared a new study by Trucost that revealed the environmental cost of using plastics in consumer goods and packaging is nearly four times less than if plastics were replaced with alternatives. Trucost found that replacing plastics in consumer products and packaging with a mix of other materials that provide the same function would actually increase environmental costs from $139 billion to $533 billion annually. This is because strong, lightweight plastics offer the ability to do more with less material, which provides environmental benefits throughout the lifecycle of plastic products and packaging.

The press release announcing this groundbreaking discovery features Jeff Wooster, global sustainability director and chair of ACC's Packaging Team, explaining how plastics can contribute to a more sustainable future.
“By leading in innovation and performance, the world's plastics industry has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to help create a more sustainable future,” said Wooster. “This report provides a new tool to explore opportunities to further enhance plastics' environmental performance with brand owners, shippers, recyclers and other value chain partners.”

The study is based on natural capital accounting methods, which measure and value environmental impacts – such as consumption of natural water and emissions to air, land and water – which are not typically factored into traditional financial accounting. Ultimately, the study concludes that the environmental costs of alternative materials can be lower per ton of production but are cumulatively more costly due to the much larger quantities of material needed to satisfy the same purposes as plastics.

Trucost provides data and insight to help its clients understand the economic consequences of natural capital dependency to manage risk from increasing environmental costs in order to build more sustainable business models, products and brands. Trucost clients include companies and their advisors, the investment community, governments, academics, and thought leaders.

Click here to review the full report of the study.

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\nBecky Zavala