EU Parliament hears the “green” side of plastics
Monday, May 03, 2010Finnish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Eija-Riitta Korhola presented preview findings of a new sustainability report - which quantifies in detail the positive contribution plastics make to managing climate change - to a group of invited MEPs and Commission officials during a hosted debate at the European Parliament on Wednesday this week.
Korhola - who is vice-chair of the parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and a substitute member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy – detailed the initial findings of the study, titled “Plastics’ Contribution to Climate Protection’’.
The preview findings of the study, which has been funded by PlasticsEurope and was carried out by independent Austrian sustainability consultancy Denkstatt, show the use of plastics saves 2,300m GJ in energy a year. This equates to 50m tonnes of crude oil – the contents of 194 oil tankers – or 120m tonnes of GHG emissions.
The Denkstatt study looked at 173 plastic products across all plastic applications in Europe and examined energy usage throughout the entire product life cycle. Final results are currently under preparation and will be released in June, according to PlasticsEurope.
“This study’s approach is very timely - the climate change phenomenon is so serious that we can’t afford shallow assumptions and populist bumper-sticker slogans. We need facts and sound evidence on which to base our legislation,” said Korhola.
The study also finds that while an average consumer in the EU 27+2 states (EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland) emits about 14 tonnes of CO2 a year, just 1.3% - 170kg – stems from the use of plastics products.
“The Denkstatt Study challenges negative perceptions of plastics by highlighting the beneficial features of the material when viewed from a lifecycle perspective,” said PlasticsEurope executive director Wilfried Haensel.
“Saving 120 million tonnes of GHG is already 38% of the EU15 Kyoto target on the reduction of GHG emissions,” he said.
Key findings contained in the preview study include:
Plastic products enable energy savings of 2,300m GJ a year, equating to 50m tonnes of crude oil;
Use of plastic products cuts GHG emissions by 120m tonnes a year, equivalent to the total CO2 emissions of Belgium for the year 2000 or 38% of the EU15 Kyoto GHG reduction target ;
Plastics account for just 1.3% of the CO2 emissions produced by the average consumer in the EU 27+2 countries – 170kg out of a total of 14 tonnes;
Substituting plastics with alternative materials would increase energy consumption by 46% (across the total life-cycle of plastic products) and increase greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.