Amidst growing concern about the impacts of plastic on the oceans, ecosystems, and human health, there’s another largely hidden dimension of the plastic crisis: plastic’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
This report examines each of these stages of the plastic lifecycle to identify the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, sources of uncounted emissions, and uncertainties that likely lead to underestimation of plastic’s climate impacts. The report compares greenhouse gas emissions estimates against global carbon budgets and emissions commitments, and it considers how current trends and projections will impact our ability to reach agreed emissions targets. It also compiles data, such as downstream emissions and future growth rates, that have not previously been accounted for in widely used climate models. This accounting paints a grim picture: plastic proliferation threatens our planet and the climate at a global scale.