Replacing plastic packaging with other materials increases environmental impacts

    The study “Life Cycle Impacts of Plastic Packaging Compared to Substitutes in the United States and Canada: Theoretical Substitution Analysis,” prepared by Franklin Associates for the American Chemistry Council (ACC), finds that replacing plastic packaging with alternative materials would cause increases in energy use, water consumption and solid waste, as well as increase greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), acidification, eutrophication and ozone depletion.

    “This report builds upon established data on the energy and GHG benefits of plastics, compared to alternatives,” says Steve Russell, vice president of plastics, ACC, Washington. “It expands our understanding of critical environmental benefits beyond energy and highlights key environmental indicators like water use and waste generation.”

    The study expands upon a 2014 report that used life cycle assessment methodology to assess the energy consumption and GHG emission potential of six general categories of plastic packaging produced and sold in the U.S. and Canada relative to alternative packaging. 

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