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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

A New Plastics Economy?

As we all know plastics are a man-made creation which like steel and cement are the building blocks of our current society. However plastics particularly packing is used only once then discarded causing significant environmental problems. The adverse impacts of discarded plastic in the oceans is well documented. Plastic manufacture uses 6% of global oil consumption and generates 400Mt of CO2 per year as a result. Projections suggest plastic production could triple over the next decade. The results from an environmental perspective would be severe and certainly not in line with the Paris Agreements desire to reduce global warning to below 2degreeC. So is there a solution? The Ellen McArthur Foundation thinks there is. They have published a report called the new plastics economy which sets out a new line of thinking that embraces the concept of the circular economy for plastic recycling and for manufacturing plastics. This radical type of thinking is just what we need if we are ever going to minimse our greenhouse and gas emissions across all sectors and hit the below 2 degree target. Of course the challenge is putting this concept into practise but one that must occur. 

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