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Misleading Minderoo Report Fails to Factor in Plastics’ Key Role in Lowering Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Matthew Kastner

WASHINGTON (May 18, 2021) – The American Chemistry Council today responded to a new report from the Minderoo Foundation:  The Plastic Waste Makers Index. The Minderoo Foundation is funded in part by one of the world’s largest suppliers of iron ore. The following statement may be attributed to Joshua Baca, ACC’s vice president of plastics.

“America’s plastic makers are deeply committed to ending plastic waste and to winning the fight against climate change. We believe everyone has a right to clean air and water, and we’re working hard to help build the low-carbon future we all want. But today’s report from The Minderoo Foundation misconstrues the relationship between plastics and our carbon footprint. Some of the most comprehensive studies to date have found that replacing plastics with other materials would drive up waste and carbon impacts.

“A renowned analysis by the environmental firm Trucost found that replacing plastic in consumer packaging and products with common alternatives would increase environmental costs nearly four times. And a separate study found that switching from plastic packaging to many alternatives would increase the amount of packaging generated annually in the U.S. by 55M tons and greenhouse gas emissions by 130%.

Glaringly absent from the Minderoo report is a recognition of plastic’s critical role in enabling innovations we need for sustainable infrastructure, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles and charging stations.

“The world needs plastic to live more sustainably, and America’s plastic makers are leading the development of solutions to end plastic waste. We’re innovating and investing in efforts to create a more circular economy, where used plastics are systematically remanufactured to make new plastics and other products. In the last three years, the private sector has announced $5.5 billion in U.S. investments to dramatically modernize plastics recycling. We also support an international framework to eliminate plastic waste leakage into the environment that: allows for locally relevant solutions, addresses the need for investment in national waste management infrastructure, and recognizes plastics’ essential role in driving down greenhouse gas emissions and advancing sustainability goals throughout the world.”

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $486 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for ten percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

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