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  • Press Release

Plastic Makers Committed to Ending Plastic Waste in the Environment

“We Must End Plastic Waste”

Matthew Kastner

WASHINGTON (September 17, 2020) – Science magazine today published two studies: “Predicted growth in plastic waste exceeds efforts to mitigate plastic pollution” by Dr. Stephanie B. Borrelle and “Evaluating scenarios toward zero plastic pollution” by Dr. Winnie W. Y. Lau. The American Chemistry Council issued the following statement, which may be attributed to Joshua Baca, vice president of ACC’s Plastics Division:

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) welcomes new research on ocean litter published today in Science magazine. The studies, “Predicted growth in plastic waste exceeds efforts to mitigate plastic pollution” and “Evaluating scenarios toward zero plastic pollution” contribute to our growing knowledge on the sources of, and potential solutions to, plastic waste.

Let me be clear: Plastic does not belong in our environment, and the plastics industry is deeply committed to helping solve this problem. The studies’ findings, which show that plastic waste entering our ocean is increasing, underscore the need for a true sea change on plastic waste, and we couldn’t agree more.

However, recommendations to reduce plastics production and use would be highly counterproductive and impractical. Studies show that alternatives to plastics can significantly increase our environmental footprint. A report prepared by Trucost, showed that replacing plastics in packaging and consumer products with common alternatives could raise environmental costs nearly fourfold, including through substantial increases in greenhouse gas emissions and waste. Additionally, a recent study by the Imperial College of London reached a similar conclusion stating, “It is wrong to assume that alternative packaging materials would perform better, and it is important to consider the carbon benefits that arise from plastics’ use.” In just one example, the study found using glass bottles instead of plastic would increase greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 22 large coal-fired power plants.

Plastic makers are helping lead long-term, meaningful solutions to help end waste through increased collaboration, investment, and ongoing innovations in products and technology. We support many of the study authors’ recommendations to help make sure that all plastic is properly collected, reused, and/or recycled, and agree that these important changes must go beyond grassroots efforts to clean up plastic litter. Success will require commitment and action from many sectors, including the plastics industry, recyclers, government, retailers, and citizens.

Plastic contributes significantly to sustainability by helping improve hygiene, nutrition, safety and living standards around the world, so it’s critical that we maintain the societal and environmental benefits of plastic.

To do that, we must end plastic waste and instead be reusing plastic in ways that benefit people and the planet.

To more rapidly transition to a circular economy in which plastic is reused instead of wasted, America’s plastic makers have set a goal for all plastic packaging used in the United States to be reused, recycled or recovered by 2040. In just the past three years, more than $5 billion in private-sector investments has been announced, primarily in new advanced recycling technologies, to expand the types and volumes of plastic that can be reused.

To help address plastic waste globally, plastic makers and many others created the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. With nearly 50 members across the plastic value chain, the Alliance is committed to investing $1.5 billion over five years toward solutions that will prevent plastic leakage into our ocean, as well as to recover and create value from used plastics. Alliance investments, which are intended to spark additional financing, are focusing on rapidly developing countries in Asia that account for nearly 60% of the waste entering the ocean.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.

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