A recent life cycle assessment analyzed the energy and climate benefits of alternative plastic materials in contrast to plastic material. The categories included caps and closures, beverage containers, other rigid containers carrier bags, stretch/shrink wrap, and other flexible packaging materials. Carol Hochu, President and CEO of the Canadian Plastic Industry Association noted, “Plastic packaging enables the safe and efficient delivery of various products which form part of our daily lives, everything from food to essential health and safety aids. However, many are unaware that plastics carry out these functions while at the same time conserving energy and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”
In Canada, the LCA found that replacing all plastic packaging the non-plastic packaging would:
- Require nearly 4.4 times as much packaging material by weight. Increasing by nearly 5.5 million tons.
- This would also increase energy use by 2.0 times. This was calculated as being equivalent to the amount of oil transported by 18 supertankers
- This would result in 2.3 times more global warming potential. This was equated to adding 3.3 million more cars to the road.
Engineering in plastic packaging enables innovation and performance – the ability to extend the shelf life of foods and medicines. Plastic packaging viewed from the entire life cycle have more benefits than the snapshot that has been taken in years.
The afterlife of plastic is further contributing to sustainability in many ways. The ability to recycle, reuse and repurpose for energy value and converted to liquid oil, electricity and into other fuels.
There have been great strides made in the reusability and repurposing of plastic containers. These valuable resources are used to make fleece jackets, new plastic bottles, pipes, pallets, creates and buckets, decking and other lawn and garden products. The majority of product stemming from recycled plastic bottles, non-bottle rigid plastics such as deli and dairy containers, bakery, vegetable, fruit containers, and plastic film, bags and outer wrap.
Plastic enhances our lifestyles, our economy, and the environment.
Source: Canadian Plastics Industry Association