Some groups have suggested that placing limits on the production of plastic materials (resin) would help stem the flow of plastics products and packaging into the environment.
Production caps risk taking a step backward for the environment. Hampering the fight against climate change. While having no discernable effect on building a circular economy for plastic. And causing massive disruptions in global supply chains.
Production caps would reverse many sustainability advancements. Replacing plastic with other materials in multiple applications – cars, insulation, packaging, low carbon energy – would increase greenhouse gas emissions and our environmental footprint. Studies typically find that four times more alternative material is needed (by weight) to perform the same function as plastic in consumer products and packaging.
To protect the environment, we should use the most efficient materials for the job.
Limiting manufacturing of materials does not contribute to universal access to waste management and recycling, which is needed to keep materials out of our environment. We should not focus on restricting essential and lifesaving materials that contribute to sustainability. We should focus on ending the leakage of those materials into the environment.
We all are still reeling from severely disrupted global supply chains caused by a pandemic. Would we seriously consider artificially disrupting supply chains through production caps on the materials that enable nearly every sector of the global economy: medical, food production, water delivery, electric vehicles, home building, low carbon energy, and more? Limiting plastic production would cause devastating ripple effects throughout the global economy and risk untenable inflation.
Production caps on plastic is a bad idea that would make a tough situation worse. It’s time to focus on solving the problem of waste in our environment. Period.
The U.S. Congress can help by enacting our 5 Actions for Sustainable Change, five simple steps to accelerate a circular economy for plastics.
A global agreement among nations to end plastic waste in the environment can stimulate a circular economy for plastics. Our 5 Principles for an international agreement would retain the societal benefits of plastics while marshalling the resources needed to keep plastic waste out of our environment.