Environmental consultancy Trucost has released the results of a study on the positive impact of using sustainable plastics, showing that it could generate $3.5bn (€3.1bn) in environmental savings.
Richard Mattison, CEO of Trucost, unveiled the study, titled “Scaling sustainable plastics: Solutions to drive plastics towards a circular economy,” at the Plasticity Forum in Shanghai in April.
“Our research identifies solutions to the challenges of scaling up the market for sustainable plastic,” Mattison said. “By assessing the environmental cost/benefits of sustainable plastic initiatives, companies and governments can better understand the business case for investment.”
The company presented recommended actions and included case studies in the study.
TruCost estimates the environmental cost of using plastics to be $75bn (€67bn), due to climate change and pollution. However, cost savings can be achieved via closed loop recycling, plant-based plastics, and biodegradable polymers.
Expanding these initiatives, Mattison said, could lead to net benefit to the planet of $3.5bn per year.
He cited the example of Dell's closed-loop recycling — using recycled plastics recovered from its own products to produce new computers. TruCost's study estimated that if the entire computer industry used recycled plastic from closed-loop recycling, the environmental cost savings to society would reach $700m (€627m) per year.
Trucost also estimated that $2.8bn (€2.5bn) per year could be saved in environmental cost to society if the entire footwear and soft drinks sectors used low-carbon-footprint bioplastics made from algae.
Doug Woodring, co-founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance and organizer of the Plasticity Forum, said, “Companies now realize that environmental sustainability has a positive impact not only on the communities they serve, but also on their own bottom line. Managing the plastic ecosystem through recycling, reuse, and closed-loop methods can create jobs, save money, improve brand value, and create supply chain efficiency.”