US: Plastics to overtake coal’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, says study

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Oct 22, 2021, 03:51 PM(IST)

Plastic pollution Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The report found that the American plastics industry is releasing at least 232m tons of GHG annually. This is equivalent to 116 average-sized coal-fired power plants

A new report by Bennington College’s Beyond Plastics project has revealed that the plastics industry in the US will be releasing more greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) than coal-powered electricity generating plants by the end of the decade.

The report found that the American plastics industry is releasing at least 232m tons of GHG annually. This is equivalent to 116 average-sized coal-fired power plants.

Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics and former regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator under President Obama said that plastic has become the new coal. She was quoted by The Guardian as saying, "The health impacts of the emissions are disproportionately borne by low-income communities and communities of color."

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It has been reported that 90 per cent of the plastics industry’s climate change pollution takes place in just 18 communities. This is where the residents earn 28 per cent less than the average American household and are 67 per cent more likely to be minority communities.

The report further highlighted 10 different stages in which plastics manufacturing emits the maximum amount of GHG. It was concluded that Hydro-fracking is expected to release 45m tons of methane annually in the US by 2025.

Also, transporting and processing fracked gases emit roughly 4.8m tons of methane a year.

The petrochemical ethane gas cracker facilities release at least 70m tons of GHG annually. 

Various other plastic raw materials manufacturing is responsible for 28m tons of GHG emissions annually. The exports and imports of plastics raw materials and products emit at least 51m tons of GHG annually. This is equivalent to more than 25 coal-fired power plants.

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