Plastics is the New Coal

Hi Everyone, I don’t believe I saw this posted in this forum yet?
Fracked gas as we all know has expanded rapidly, especially in the US.
Its being used to make plastic that has a very high GWP, and is canceling all the progress we are making from moving away from coal, as a comparison.
How are we going to stop making/using plastic?!
Please read and review this report!

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Hi Sara, thanks for posting this. We need to acknowledge that carbon emissions are part of a wider issue of overconsumption, pollutions and habitat destruction. Plastics are a really complicated area - there are some bio-based plastics that use oils from crops as precursors, but these have their own environmental issues.

Personally I think that we need a multipronged approach:

  • Significantly reducing demand for plastics, particularly single use and short lived plastics.
  • Increasing reuse and recycling of plastics.
  • Investment in novel bio-based plastics that are using sustainable feedstocks, e.g., agricultural waste material, algae and seaweed farming.

Thank you Will!
It’s clear that the amount of plastic in our modern society has grown exponentially since the 90’s since it was discovered they could make it cheaply from fracked gas. The connection between all that new plastic and GHG emissions is really made clear by this report. What I don’t get is, how is it that we need all that new plastic? If only a few short decades ago we weren’t using it? Seems we could go back, then, right?

Few follow up thoughts:

  • They note in the report that most attempts to “recycle” is really just more chemical processing that does more harm.
  • There is much green washing and mislabeling in the bio-plastic world. Some is “compostable” just because it breaks down fast into mini pieces of plastic. Is there a good report that lays all this out?
  • The filed of “green chemistry” perhaps can help, when these questions on toxicity, emissions, etc are considered and tested, before let out into the public domain.

This was a great listen: