Study says US plastics use saves on energy, emissions

03 March 2014 16:24 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Replacing all plastic packaging in the US with non-plastic alternatives would result in an 80% increase in energy use, according to a study released on Monday.

Using 2010 as its baseline year, the study assessed energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions of six categories of plastic packaging produced and sold in the US and Canada – caps and closures, beverage containers, rigid containers, shopping bags, stretch/shrink wrap and other flexible packaging.

According to the study, replacing all plastic packaging in the US would result in the equivalent of adding 15.7m greenhouse gas-emitting automobiles to the country’s roadways.

Also, non-plastic alternatives require 4.5 times as much packaging material by weight, and thus switching to them would increase the amount of packaging used in the US by nearly 55m tons (50m tonnes), the study said.

The study was prepared by Franklin Associates for the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA).

“We all know that plastic packaging plays a critical role in protecting and preserving everything from groceries to high-end electronics. This study demonstrates that plastic packaging also makes a significant contribution to sustainability by dramatically reducing energy use and lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” said Steve Russell, vice president of ACC’s Plastics Division.

By Jeremy Pafford