Reducing plastic production could halve related GHG emissions, EIA report finds


plastic production

Reducing the production of plastic polymers could halve associated greenhouse gas emissions over the next 25 years, according to a new report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

According to the new EIA report “Addressing the Issue Head-On – Measures on Polymer Production in the Global Plastics Treaty”, halting overall polymer production, coupled with measures to target PVC, polystyrene, and polyurethane and placing limits on polyethylene, polypropylene and PET, could reduce annual plastic production by 64%.

In the run-up to the fourth round of Global Plastic Treaty negotiations (INC-4) in Ottawa, Canada, from 23 April, the EIA said it used data to model a series of scenarios.

The EIA found that reducing plastic production could decrease greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by at least 25-47 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalence between 2025 and 2050.

The report also found a reduction could reduce the amount plastic waste that is mismanaged, incinerated or sent to landfill by 7.1 billion tonnes over the same period.

If polymer production continues on a “business as usual” basis, the report predicted up to 17.7 billion tonnes of plastic could be produced over the next 25 years.

We have to begin to reduce the amount of plastics we are producing year on year.

Commenting on the report, EIA Oceans Campaigner Jacob Kean-Hammerson said: “Our hypothetical modelling exercise using newly reported data clearly demonstrates that addressing plastic production needs to be part of the solution to the plastic pollution and climate crisis.

“It’s a sure-fire way to move towards a safer, more circular economy for plastics, reduce waste generation and crucially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We have to begin to reduce the amount of plastics we are producing year on year. At the moment, we are on an exponential growth trajectory and it’s unfathomable that in 25 years we will produce 17.7 billion tonnes of plastic and 15 billion tonnes of waste – yet that is where we are heading.”

The EIA said a circular economy for plastics is “unachievable without urgent action” because of the amount of low-cost virgin plastic which is cheaper to produce than recycling used plastics, coupled with a “lack of regulation and transparency” in the supply chain.

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