Plastics save energy

With the EU committing to saving 780 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020, our society has entered a period of major change where decision-makers, industries and consumers will have to work hand-in-hand towards greener living standards. For PlasticsEurope, this ambitious goal cannot be separated from the efficient use of energy. This is something the plastics industry can contribute to achieve, thanks to:

  • Efficient insulation: in buildings, plastics provide effective insulation from cold and heat and prevent air leakages. Plastic insulation materials consume approximately 16% less energy and emit 9% less GHG than alternative materials. Across their whole life cycle, plastic insulation boards save 150 times the energy used for their manufacture. 
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  • Applications in the generation of renewable energy: Did you know that wind turbines' rotor blades and photovoltaic panels contain large amounts of plastics? Thanks to these major contributions to the efficient production of renewable energy, plastics can help save 140 times and 340 times respectively, the emissions produced during their production. 




  • Prevention of food losses: plastics food packaging delivers more efficient protection, reduces food waste and extends shelf life, thereby saving energy and GHG emissions. Plastics packaging for meat, for instance, extend shelf life by three to six days and even longer for the most advanced ones. Considering that producing one kilo of beef leads to emissions equivalent to three hours of driving, this extended shelf life is a substantial improvement for our planet! 
 
  • Lightweight applications: plastics also provide lightweight packaging and vehicle weight reductions that combine to result in less CO2 emissions linked to transportation. Replacing plastic packaging with alternatives would lead to packaging weight being multiplied by a factor of four if alternative packaging materials were used!



  • Less greenhouse gas emissions at production level: most plastic products need less energy to be produced than other materials, especially in applications such as transport, building and construction, packaging and electronic devices. If plastics had to disappear and to be replaced by alternatives, the life-cycle energy consumption for these alternatives would be increased by around 57% and the GHG emissions would rise by 61%.


Clearly the use of plastics helps reduce energy, costs and greenhouse gasses.

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Related information
Energy Roadmap report: "European chemistry for growth"
(published 22nd April 2013)
 



Energy Roadmap Brochure: "Energy policy at the crossroads"
(published 25th June 2013)

Video
How plastics help protect the planet 

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