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Plastics Makers Welcome Latest Study of Plastics Production, Use, Fate

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Matthew Kastner
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WASHINGTON (July 19, 2017) – The journal Science Advances today published a study on the “Production, Use and Fate of All Plastics Ever Made,” by Roland Geyer, Jenna R. Jambeck and Kara Lavender Law. The American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division, which represents leading resin producers, issued the following statement, which may be attributed to Steve Russell, vice president of plastics:

“America’s plastics makers welcome this new look at global production, use, and management of used plastics, and we look forward to continuing discussions on why plastics use is growing and how these advanced materials contribute to our safety, health and quality of life. 

Demand for plastics has grown in parallel with population growth, particularly in parts of the world where large numbers of people are rapidly moving out of poverty. Perhaps more to the point, even as plastics’ use continues to increase, plastics are helping to significantly lower environmental impacts. That’s because plastics are extremely efficient materials that allow us to do more with less in everything from medical devices to electronics to buildings to transportation.

A study conducted by Trucost in 2016 found that plastics help reduce environmental costs by four times compared to alternatives. In packaging, for example, plastics enable significant environmental benefits, including reductions in energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and waste.

All of us have an obligation to use materials—including plastics—as efficiently as possible, to use them wisely, and to recycle and recover as much as we can. Many experts agree that expanded waste management infrastructure is the key to addressing sustainable use of these resources.

Plastics makers are working closely with NGOs, governments, and businesses in the U.S. and around the world to increase investment in waste management infrastructure, encourage the adoption of advanced recycling equipment, and expand opportunities for energy conversion where recycling isn’t feasible. For example, in the United States, we support a number of programs to improve recycling and recovery including: the Wrap Recycling Action program, a public-private partnership to increase recycling of plastic wraps and bags at stores; Materials Recovery for the Future, which is researching how to process more flexible packaging at recycling facilities; Keep America Beautiful’s “I Want to be Recycled” campaign, which encourages consumers to recycle; and The Recycling Partnership, which works with communities and companies to improve local recycling. 

Lightweight plastics offer significant environmental benefits throughout the life cycle of many products and packages, but we fail to maximize those benefits if we don’t manage these resources after we use them.”

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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