The report The impact of plastic packaging on energy consumption and GHG emissions by Austrian consultancy Denkstatt warns that replacing plastic with an alternative material would increase the total packaging mass by over a third on average, and that the lifecycle energy demand would more than double by 1,240 million GJ per year – equivalent to 20 million heated homes.

According to Denkstatt, all seven investigated plastic packaging sectors show environmental advantages compared to the mix of alternative materials. The benefits in the use-phase substantially contribute to this positive result, while those of recycling and recovery are often higher as well.

The study claims that plastic packaging is not only practical and efficient, but inexpensive and safe. For example, when used to pack fresh food, plastics prevent at least 10% more food losses than alternative packaging materials, resulting in 22m tonnes of CO2 savings.

Maxine Perella

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