The American Chemistry Council (ACC), Washington, has issued a statement in response to the release of a new report titled "The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics," which looks at the economic and environmental attributes of plastic packaging. The report was a released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the U.K.-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
The ACC states:
“WEF’s new report highlights that plastics and plastic packaging are an integral and important part of the global economy. According to the report:
“‘Plastic packaging not only delivers direct economic benefits but can also contribute to increased levels of resource productivity—for instance, plastic packaging can reduce food waste by extending shelf life and can reduce fuel consumption for transportation by bringing packaging weight down (page 7).’
“WEF also underscores opportunities to improve plastics’ environmental profile by recovering more postuse plastics for recycling or energy conversion and by preventing used plastics from ending up in our oceans.
“A 2014 life cycle inventory study conducted by Franklin Associates across the U.S. market confirms the benefits of plastic packaging. The 2014 study, “Impact of Plastics Packaging on Life Cycle Energy Consumption & Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United States and Canada,” found that replacing six types of packaging with nonplastic alternatives in the United States would require 4.5 times as much packaging material by weight, increasing the amount of packaging used in the U.S. by nearly 55 million tons (110 billion pounds); increase energy use by 80 percent—equivalent to the energy from 91 oil supertankers; and result in 130 percent more global warming potential—equivalent to adding 15.7 million more cars to our roads.
“America’s plastics makers are working to increase plastics’ recycling and to recover for energy those plastics that cannot yet be economically recycled. Today in the United Sates, we recycle over 6 billion pounds of plastics annually. Plastics makers actively support programs designed to dramatically increase plastics recycling, especially for newer categories, such as rigid and film plastics. Recycling of rigid plastics—a category that includes wide-mouth containers, tubs, caps and lids—has tripled since just 2007. Film plastics recycling, which includes a variety of flexible wraps and bags, has doubled since 2005. Individually, both categories have grown to over 1 billion pounds annually, and plastics makers are partnering with organizations including the Association of Plastics Recyclers, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, the Recycling Partnership and Keep America Beautiful to further boost plastics recycling across the United States.
“In addition, plastics associations around the world have committed to address plastics ocean debris by committing to a series of principles known as the Declaration for Solutions on Marine Litter. Signed by more than 60 plastics associations in 34 countries, the plastics industry has launched over 185 projects to address marine litter since 2011.
“We in the plastics industry welcome additional opportunities to partner with others in the shared effort to recycle and recover more plastics and to keep plastics out of the marine environment.”