Plastics and Sustainability: A Valuation of Environmental Benefits, Costs and Opportunities for Continuous Improvement 

Global production of plastics has grown 20 fold from 15 million metric tons (Mt) in 1964 to 311 Mt in 2014 (Plastics Europe, 2015), with plastics becoming ubiquitous across almost all facets of the economy. With its ever-expanding applications, plastics have delivered many benefits for society. Plastic packaged food lasts longer, reducing wastage. Use of plastic in pipes facilitates clean drinking water supplies, while plastic enables life-saving medical devices such as surgical equipment and drips. Due to its light weight, plastic use in vehicles has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from transport (Andrady & Neal, 2009).

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American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the multibillion-dollar business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products, technologies and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health, safety and security performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy addressing major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. ACC members and chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development, and are advancing products, processes and technologies to address climate change, enhance air and water quality, and progress toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

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