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Plastics' contribution to climate protection

New publication details benefits of plastics lifecycle analysis

PlasticsEurope, the European Association of Plastics Manufacturers, went one step further in its drive towards providing a clear and transparent view on the role of plastics towards mitigating climate change. On the occasion of the COP16 in Cancun, PlasticsEurope launched a new publication with key information on the environmental impact of the plastics lifecycle. This impact is often complex and counter-intuitive, and the European plastics industry wants to make a contribution towards a balanced discussion on the role of plastics in meeting society’s challenges and expectations.

The brochure "Plastics' contribution to climate protection” gives a broad overview on the carbon footprint of plastics, taking into consideration all steps from production to waste management. By underlining the importance of a cradle-to-grave approach, PlasticsEurope is calling on policy-makers meeting in Cancun to focus on opportunities which give the biggest, most effective and cost efficient returns in terms of CO2 benefits.

Michel Loubry, Energy Efficiency and Climate Protection Programme Director at PlasticsEurope stated: "The European plastics industry wants to challenge the negative perceptions of plastics by highlighting its benefits when viewed from a lifecycle perspective. The selection of materials must be assessed based on rational rather than emotional criteria”.

The information in the new brochure is supported by the recent study undertaken by Austrian sustainability consultancy Denkstatt, which gives the clearest picture yet of the CO2 emissions of plastics versus alternative materials and their role in mitigating climate change.

Michel Loubry added: "The interdependencies between production and use are key when it comes to cutting green house gases. By using oil to produce plastics, in the long term we’re saving a bigger amount in other sectors. For example, plastic insulation saves energy in buildings and food packaging reduces transport and fuel costs. Denkstatt concluded that plastic saves 2.300 million GJ in energy per year, (the equivalent to 53 million tonnes of crude oil),and 124 million tonnes CO2 per year (the equivalent to the entire annual emissions of a country like Belgium)”.