Strategies to reduce the global carbon footprint of plastics

  title={Strategies to reduce the global carbon footprint of plastics},
  author={Jiajia Zheng and Sangwon Suh},
  journal={Nature Climate Change},
Over the past four decades, global plastics production has quadrupled1. [...] Key Method 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…Expand

Figures from this paper

Growing environmental footprint of plastics driven by coal combustion
Research on the environmental impacts from the global value chain of plastics has typically focused on the disposal phase, considered most harmful to the environment and human health. However, the
Manufacturing energy and greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastics consumption
Summary Reducing the carbon intensity of plastics production by sourcing sustainable feedstocks while simultaneously enabling effective polymer recycling represents a potential transformation of 21st
Achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emission plastics by a circular carbon economy
A bottom-up model that represents the life cycle of 90% of global plastics is developed and shows that net-zero emission plastics can be achieved by combining biomass and carbon dioxide utilization with an effective recycling rate of 70% while saving 34 to 53% of energy.
Plastics value chain - Abatement of greenhouse gas emissions
This study focuses on the possibilities to abate greenhouse gas emissions in the value chain of plastics with special emphasis on efficiency improvements in the virgin plastics production and to
Renewable carbon feedstock for polymers: environmental benefits from synergistic use of biomass and CO2.
This work uses life cycle assessment (LCA) to quantify the environmental benefits of the combined utilization of biomass and CO2 in the polyurethane supply chain and shows how the combination reduces GHG emissions and resource use by exploiting synergies between the feedstocks.
The transformation of plastics production from net positive greenhouse gas emissions to net negative: An environmental sustainability assessment of CO2-based polypropylene
Abstract The production of plastics is heavily dependent upon fossil feedstocks, thus contributing to global warming. Power-to-X technologies provide new routes to chemicals and plastics production
Metrics on the sustainability of region-specific bioplastics production, considering global land use change effects
Abstract Expanding the production of fuels and fibres based on traditional food crops can put additional pressures on ecosystems and natural resources, with potential spillover effects through
Global scenarios of resource and emission savings from material efficiency in residential buildings and cars
This analysis presents a global-scale analysis of material efficiency for passenger vehicles and residential buildings, and estimates future changes in material flows and energy use due to increased yields, light design, material substitution, extended service life, and increased service efficiency, reuse, and recycling.
Capture and Reuse of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) for a Plastics Circular Economy: A Review
Plastic production has been increasing at enormous rates. Particularly, the socioenvironmental problems resulting from the linear economy model have been widely discussed, especially regarding
Integrated and Consolidated Review of Plastic Waste Management and Bio-Based Biodegradable Plastics: Challenges and Opportunities
Cumulative plastic production worldwide skyrocketed from about 2 million tonnes in 1950 to 8.3 billion tonnes in 2015, with 6.3 billion tonnes (76%) ending up as waste. Of that waste, 79% is either


Greenhouse gas mitigation for U.S. plastics production: energy first, feedstocks later
Plastics production is responsible for 1% and 3% of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and primary energy use, respectively. Replacing conventional plastics with bio-based plastics (made from
A Comparative Life Cycle Assessment Study of Polyethylene Based on Sugarcane and Crude Oil
A potential strategy for tackling the negative environmental impact of conventional plastics is to produce them from renewable resources. However, such a strategy needs to be assessed quantitatively,
Life cycle impact assessment of bio-based plastics from sugarcane ethanol
The increasing production of bio-based plastics calls for thorough environmental assessments. Using life cycle assessment, this study compares European supply of fully bio-based high-density
Uncertainty in the Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Production of Three Biobased Polymer Families.
GHG emissions from U.S. production of three important biobased polymer families: polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and bioethylene-based plastics are investigated using Monte Carlo simulation.
A Review of the Environmental Impacts of Biobased Materials
Concerns over climate change and the security of industrial feedstock supplies have been opening a growing market for biobased materials. This development, however, also presents a challenge to
Plastics derived from biological sources: present and future: a technical and environmental review.
In short, petrochemical plastics are not sustainable and bio-based sustainable plastics should be developed to avoid problems caused by the petro chemical plastics.
Environmental impact assessment of six starch plastics focusing on wastewater-derived starch and additives
Abstract Starch plastics are developed for their biobased origin and potential biodegradability. To assist the development of sustainable starch plastics, this paper quantifies the environmental
Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made
By identifying and synthesizing dispersed data on production, use, and end-of-life management of polymer resins, synthetic fibers, and additives, this work presents the first global analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever manufactured.
The promise of plastics from plants
Shifting from petrochemical feedstocks to renewable resources—making plastics from plants—can also rectify some environmental challenges associated with petro chemical extraction and render plastics production sustainable (see the figure).
Life cycle assessment of sugarcane ethanol production in India in comparison to Brazil
PurposeIndia’s biofuel programme relies on ethanol production from sugarcane molasses. However, there is limited insight on environmental impacts across the Indian ethanol production chain. This