Publication / 27 Jul 2016

Plastics and Sustainability

Trucost and the American Chemistry Council demonstrate how businesses can use plastic more sustainably.

Plastics have delivered many benefits for society. Plastic packaged food lasts longer, reducing wastage. Use of plastic in pipes facilitates clean drinking water supplies, while plastic enables life-saving medical devices such as surgical equipment and drips. Due to its light weight, plastic use in vehicles has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from transport.

However, as the use of plastic in modern society has increased, so too have the environmental impacts associated with its production and disposal. Trucost research for UNEP in 2014 highlighted the environmental costs of plastic use in consumer products, including emissions of greenhouse gases, air, land and water pollutants, depletion of water and the production of marine debris in the global oceans. These environmental costs have prompted some to argue that plastics should be replaced with alternative materials, which may present fewer environmental challenges. However, recent studies by Franklin Associates (2013) and Denkstatt (2011), which modeled the substitution of plastic with alternative materials (such as paper, steel, aluminum and glass), suggest that a move away from plastics may come at an even higher net environmental cost.

This study seeks to build upon this research using Trucost’s natural capital valuation framework to value the environmental costs of plastic and its alternatives, and consider how more sustainable practices could help reduce the environmental costs of plastic use in the consumer products sector.

 

3 February, 2020
Events Green Finance Summit – Phoenix – 3 – 4, 2020

The GreenFin Summit follows a successful launch event in 2019. That invitation-only event brought together 100 corporate sustainability leaders, major public-sector pension fund executives and leading financial institutions, with over a trillion dollars of combined assets under management. The discussion broached vital topics in ESG that will be expanded upon at the 2020 Summit. Richard Mattison...

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Trucost News / 26 Nov 2019 Trucost launches Physical Risk Analytics to help assess risks and opportunities from climate change

New dataset and analytics enables investors, companies and governments to weigh risk of companies’ assets from physical impacts of climate change

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1 October, 2019
Events Webinar: Incorporating Physical Risk in TCFD Portfolio Climate Reporting

Join Trucost's complimentary webinar to hear expert opinion on how physical risk factors can impact TCFD reporting.

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