Impacts of plastic on Greenhouse Emissions
Nov 24 2021 Ram Krishnan

Impacts of plastic on Greenhouse Emissions

We all are aware of the impact of plastic to the marine life, ecosystems and human health, but one factor that is not given enough coverage is the greenhouse gas emission and climate change due to plastic.

Before we dive in let us understand what is greenhouse gas emissions? It is the emission from human activities that strengthen the greenhouse effect (a process by which radiation from a planet's atmosphere warms the planet's surface to a temperature above what it would be without this atmosphere), thus causing climate change. The main cause is the emission of greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane.

To understand how plastic generation contributes to greenhouse gas emission, lets us look at the stages of plastic life cycle. Nearly every piece of plastic begins as a fossil fuel, and greenhouse gases are emitted at each of each stage of the plastic lifecycle as can be seen below


To put this in context, in 2019, the production and incineration of plastic produced more than 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases—equal to the emissions from 189 five-hundred-megawatt coal power plants. And if we continue at the same rate, the emission will be more than 3 times the current rate by the end of 2050.

Across their lifecycle, plastics account for 3.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s almost double the emissions of the aviation sector

The World Economic Forum (WEF) projects that plastic production and use will grow 3.8 percent per year through 2030 and then slow down to 3.5 percent per year from 2030 through 2050. At this rate, the emissions from plastic production will reach 15% of global emissions by 2050.

At current levels, greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic lifecycle threaten the ability of the global community to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C. So, what can we do to reduce this impact?

    - Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics : There are Simple ways to cut down the amount of plastic we all use, from bags and bottles to straws and packaging. To learn more please see find some tips from us in our blog here.

    - Designing out plastic pollution :Ellen Macarthur foundation recommends changing how we design, use, and reuse plastics. We cannot simply recycle or reduce our way out of the plastic pollution crisis, but redesign the system so that packaging can either be eliminated, replaced with reusable packaging, or made recyclable or compostable. By moving to a circular economy for plastic we will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 25% whilst reducing the annual volume of plastic entering our ocean by 80%

    As a society we all need to do our bit to help our planet cope with this calamity and help re-design the single-use society to move to a re-usable economy. At Roots & Hoots, we have re-designed the whole delivery system to move from single use plastic to reusable packaging. Since launch, we have saved 7000 single use plastic pieces from entering the system thus reducing the green house emission.

    We are totally convinced that re-usability is the future of groceries and packaging. Join us on our mission and together we can help reduce more of the green house emission entering the environment.