Strategies to reduce the global carbon footprint of plastics

Strategies to reduce the global carbon footprint of plastics Over the past four decades, global plastics production has quadrupled 1 . If this trend were to continue, the GHG emissions from plastics would reach 15% of the global carbon budget by 2050 2 . Strategies to mitigate the life-cycle GHG emissions of plastics, however, have not been evaluated on a global scale. Here, we compile a dataset covering ten conventional and five bio-based plastics and their life-cycle GHG emissions under various mitigation strategies. Our results show that the global life-cycle GHG emissions of conventional plastics were 1.7 Gt of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) in 2015, which would grow to 6.5 GtCO2e by 2050 under the current trajectory. However, aggressive application of renewable energy, recycling and demand-management strategies, in concert, has the potential to keep 2050 emissions comparable to 2015 levels. In addition, replacing fossil fuel feedstock with biomass can further reduce emissions and achieve an absolute reduction from the current level. Our study demonstrates the need for integrating energy, materials, recycling and demand-management strategies to curb growing life-cycle GHG emissions from plastics. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nature Climate Change Springer Journals

Strategies to reduce the global carbon footprint of plastics

Nature Climate Change, Volume 9 (5) – Apr 15, 2019

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2019 by The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited
Subject
Environment; Environment, general; Climate Change; Climate Change/Climate Change Impacts; Environmental Law/Policy/Ecojustice
ISSN
1758-678X
eISSN
1758-6798
DOI
10.1038/s41558-019-0459-z
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Over the past four decades, global plastics production has quadrupled 1 . If this trend were to continue, the GHG emissions from plastics would reach 15% of the global carbon budget by 2050 2 . Strategies to mitigate the life-cycle GHG emissions of plastics, however, have not been evaluated on a global scale. Here, we compile a dataset covering ten conventional and five bio-based plastics and their life-cycle GHG emissions under various mitigation strategies. Our results show that the global life-cycle GHG emissions of conventional plastics were 1.7 Gt of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) in 2015, which would grow to 6.5 GtCO2e by 2050 under the current trajectory. However, aggressive application of renewable energy, recycling and demand-management strategies, in concert, has the potential to keep 2050 emissions comparable to 2015 levels. In addition, replacing fossil fuel feedstock with biomass can further reduce emissions and achieve an absolute reduction from the current level. Our study demonstrates the need for integrating energy, materials, recycling and demand-management strategies to curb growing life-cycle GHG emissions from plastics.

Journal

Nature Climate ChangeSpringer Journals

Published: Apr 15, 2019

References

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