When it comes to single use plastic and environmental impacts of these products, people tend to focus only on the packaging, and not the whole product life cycle – what really matters is what is inside those plastic containers. Here are five myths surrounding the environmental impacts of single-use plastic.
Plastic containers is the largest contributor to a product’s environmental impact.
The product inside the plastic containers have the largest environmental impacts compared to the containers. With proper waste management, plastic containers can be recycled and turned into economical products such as plastic pellets.
Environmental Impact of plastics are larger than any other packaging materials.
Glass and aluminum packaging has greater environmental impact than a single-use plastic. Not to mention the resources needed to extract those materials.
Reusable products are often better than single-use plastic.
Reusable products have lower environmental impact if only they are used frequently enough to compensate the materials and energy used to make them. For example, standard cotton tote bag has to be used 7100 times or 219 years of supermarket shopping to compensate resource extraction and energy used in production to be comparable with 1 conventional LDPE plastic bag.
Plastic recycling and decomposing should be the highest priority.
Even though recycling helps, decomposing plastic such as biodegradable plastic has other consequences such as microplastic infestation in our water body.
“Zero-waste” effort that eliminates plastic reduce the environmental impact of an event.
The benefits from eliminating plastic are inconsequential to the environmental saving effort such as converting to vegetarian or reducing beef portion by 25%.
Miller, Shelie A. 2020. Five Misperceptions Surrounding the Environmental Impacts of Single-Use Plastic. Environ. Sci. Technol. Vol. 54 Pp. 14143-14151.