ENVIRONMENTAL EVALUATION ON ALTERNATIVE MATERIAL FOR CONSUMER GOODS AND PLASTIC PACKAGING
The study of Trucost, Plastics and Sustainability: A Valuation of Environmental Benefits, Costs, and Opportunities for Continuous Improvement, has been supported by the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council. The study carried out evaluations on the benefits of the usage of plastics in packaging and consumer goods and the case of being replaced with alternative materials which would bring a four times more environmental cost.
The previous reports examining the plastics usage and its environmental cost, such as Trucost report Valuing Plastics (2014) and World Economic Forum report The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics (2016) have formed the basis of Plastics and Sustainability study with its findings. The environmental values and impacts – like natural water consumption, emissions to land, water and air – are based in the methods of natural capital accounting of this study, which bring it to a more realistic summary than traditional financial accounting.
Results of the study seem to be remarkable for reassessing a misinformation. Trucost study gives the results that instead of beneficial effects, replacing plastics used in packaging and consumer products with alternative materials for same functions would bring four times higher costs. According to the study, the annual environmental costs would raise from $139 billion to $533 billion. The main factor is plastics can be effectively used as a material in forming more lightweight and strong products. This completes the lifecycle of plastics which brings less environmental damage in long term.
Steps to be taken are also indicated in the report for reducing the current environmental costs of plastics. The primary advises are usage of lower-carbon electricity in production of plastics, increasing the use of lower-emission transport modes, developments of more efficient products in plastic packaging, and increasing the recycling of plastic scrap to avoid formation of garbage stacks and to help the preservation of resources.