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Plastics and Sustainability: A Valuation of Environmental Benefits, Costs and Opportunities for Continuous Improvement

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. Specifically, this study aims to:

  • Quantify the environmental cost of plastic used in the consumer goods sector and compare this with a hypothetical scenario in which most plastic used in consumer products and packaging is replaced with a mix of alternative materials that serve the same purpose.
  • Map the environmental costs of plastic and alternative material use across the value chain, geographic regions and consumer goods sub-sectors, to help target interventions to improve sustainability at key points where the greatest benefits can be achieved.
  • Identify those sectors exposed to the greatest environmental risks if plastic were replaced with alternatives.
  • Quantify the potential environmental benefits of strategies to further improve the sustainability of plastic use, such as more efficient packaging design, improved waste collection and material and energy recovery systems, and increasing low-carbon energy use in the plastics manufacturing sector.
  • Provide recommendations for the plastic manufacturing sector on ways to reduce the environmental costs of plastics.
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