Contact: Allyson Wilson (202) 249-6623 

WASHINGTON (June 23, 2014) - Today a group called TruCost released a report about how businesses use plastics and report plastics use.  The following statement can be attributed to Steve Russell, Vice President for Plastics, American Chemistry Council

"We welcome this new report and acknowledge the significant effort put into this substantial work, which provides one data point that companies that manufacture and deliver a range of valuable consumer goods can use when assessing their products and processes.  As a result of corporate sustainability goals and customer requests, companies today are measuring an ever greater number of metrics, including: energy use, GHG emission reductions, costs and benefits of alternative materials, recycling and waste reduction, logistics and more.  Natural capital cost can be another piece of that assessment, and we endorse the conclusion that "the emphasis should not be on systematically moving away from plastic but rather (to) use it in an efficient and environmentally sustainable way."

"We think, however, that the report missed an important opportunity to help companies put natural capital cost into a more useful context in certain applications, such as plastic used in food packaging.  For example, the report does not discuss accounting for resources saved when plastic is used instead of other materials, or the resources and GHG emissions saved from decreased food waste and spoilage and the resulting energy saved.  It does not address the consequences often associated with using alternatives to plastic packaging, such as products lost or damaged during transportation, or increased food and packaging waste, GHG emissions and energy use.  Providing companies with a methodology or incentive to discuss these additional considerations surrounding material use would have created a more powerful and useful tool. 

"Today many leading food packaging (and other consumer product companies) are using comprehensive lifecycle assessment tools to measure and assess the overall impacts of their products and processes, and we support them in those efforts."

A recent life cycle study of plastic packaging conducted by Franklin Associates for the American Chemistry Council found that replacing plastic packaging with packaging made from alternative materials would result in significant costs to the environment, such as:

  • Requiring 4.5 times as much packaging material by weight, which would the amount of Packaging used in the U.S. by nearly 55 million tons (110 billion pounds);
  • Increasing energy use by 80 percent-equivalent to the energy from 91 oil supertankers; and
  • Generate 130 percent more global warming potential-equivalent to adding 15.7 million more cars to our roads.

We look forward to working with the report's authors and other value chain stakeholders to further enhance the scientific capabilities and utility of these assessments.  


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