DATE: May 15, 2019
SNIP: The proliferation of single-use plastic around the world is accelerating climate change and should be urgently halted, a report warns.
Plastic production is expanding worldwide, fuelled in part by the fracking boom in the US. The report says plastic contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, from its production to its refining and the way it is managed as a waste product.
This plastic binge threatens attempts to meet the Paris climate agreement. It means that by 2050 plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the total “carbon budget” – equivalent to 615 coal-fired power plants – says the research published on Thursday.
While plastic pollution in the oceans has become a high-profile concern, the effect on climate change of the ubiquitous use of plastic has not been a focus.
“After the extraction of fossil fuels to produce plastic, the carbon footprint of a material which has become ubiquitous across the globe continues through the refining process, and on well past its useful life as a drinks bottle or plastic bag, through the way it is disposed of and the plastic afterlife,” the report says.
“With the petrochemical and plastic industries planning a massive expansion in production, the problem is on track to get much worse.”
The key actions which the authors say are required are:
• Immediately end the production and use of single-use, disposable plastic.
• Stop development of new oil, gas and petrochemical infrastructure.
• Foster the transition to zero-waste communities.
• Implement a system where polluters pay for the impact of their products – known as extended producer responsibility.