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UNEP Report Discloses the Business Risks of Plastic Use

By Gina-Marie Cheeseman

- Published on June 27, 2014 by Triple Pundit

Plastic is used in everything from electronic devices, including computers and smartphones, to food packaging. However, plastic also has a big impact on the environment.

There is a mass of garbage in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast twice the size of Texas, called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It outnumbers marine life by 6 to 1. That plastic swirling around in the Pacific makes its way into the food chain as marine life eat small pieces of plastic.

The material is also energy-intensive and requires petroleum to be manufactured. Another key issue with plastics manufacturing is the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs): More than 30 percent of the natural capital costs from GHG emissions released upstream in the supply chain come from extracting raw materials and manufacturing plastic feedstock, according to a report from the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP). Marine pollution has an additional natural capital cost of at least $13 billion.


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