According to a new study titled Impact of Plastics Packaging on Life Cycle Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United States and Canada by Franklin Associates for the American Chemistry Council and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, six major categories of plastic packaging significantly reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions compared to packaging made with alternative materials. Using 2010 as a baseline year, the data shows replacing plastic packaging with alternative materials would result in 4.5 times more packaging weight, an 80% increase in energy use and 130% more global warming potential.
The study examines the six major packaging resins (low density polyethylene, high density PE, polypropylene, PVC, polystyrene, expanded PS, PET) against paper, glass, steel, aluminum, textiles, rubber and cork. The study considers the implications of the materials used in caps and closures, beverage containers, other rigid containers, shopping bags, shrink wrap, and other flexible packaging in a detailed life cycle assessment.
“The benefits hold up across a range of different kinds of applications and materials,” said Keith Christman, managing director of plastics markets for ACC. “Because plastics use so much less material in the first place it results in dramatic greenhouse gas reduction, and that’s just the start. It really adds up across the different types of packaging, to the equivalent of taking more than15 million cars off the road.”
Source: Plastics News