ODI warns that global emissions will not decrease without plastic reduction
Overseas Development Institute (ODI) cautions that unless emissions from plastic production fall, global Greenhouse Gases (GHG) will not slow down.
Overseas Development Institute (ODI) cautions that unless emissions from plastic production fall, global greenhouse gases (GHG) will not slow down.
The think tank estimates that by 2050, “GHG emissions from plastics will increase threefold and could account for as much as 20 percent of total oil consumption.”
The report released earlier this month found that In order “to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, it is critical that the plastics sector reduce its emissions by that date”, with 75 percent of the remaining plastic being recycled.
Moving plastic production away from fossil fuels would see the reduction of GHG emissions from plastics from 1,984 Mt CO2e in 2015 to 790 Mt CO2 in 2050, the report states.
ODI explains that in order to reduce GHG emissions, changes are needed in plastic consumption and production, and to overhaul the way that plastic waste is managed and recycled.
In order to delivery on the world’s climate change goals, plastic consumption must be halved by 2050, with 75 percent of the remaining plastic being recycled, explained the think tank.
The report states that in order to achieve a reduction in GHG emissions from plastic packaging, a greater amount of plastic made from different alternatives and/or methods is needed to meet demands.
Alternatives to plastic coupled with reduced plastic consumption and improved product design could see a 95 percent decrease in plastic use, the report found.
The report names the construction, plastic packaging, electrical and electronic equipment sector, and automobile sectors as those with the highest potential to decrease plastic use if these alternatives are adhered to.
“Reducing plastics’ emissions to zero and phasing out new plastics made from fossil fuels would halve plastics’ current demand for oil and gas and lower existing petrochemical production capacity,” said the report.
“Despite substantial attention being paid to plastic pollution and recycling, greenhouse gas emissions from the production of new plastics are set to increase dramatically,” lead researcher Andrew Scott warned. “To confront the climate crisis, we must truly recognise plastics as a climate issue and raise our ambition beyond reducing and recycling to significantly phasing out plastics all together. Our research shows that this is technically possible – but it will require public and political will, as well as leadership from industry.”
2015 saw the production of 407m tonnes of plastic. Plastic packaging accounted for 36 percent of total output, followed by construction (16%) , textiles (14%), automotive sector (7%) while EEE consumed 4 percent, the report found.
The report warns that “necessary” changes in almost every market sector are required in order to achieve a reduction in GHG emissions from plastics consistent with a 1.5C global heating goal.
ODI places emphasis on the need on government intervention to transform the plastic sector.
To read full report, click here.