News

Report analyses plastics’ role in greenhouse gas reduction

The biggest contribution that plastics materials make to the reduction of greenhouse gases lies in insulation,...


Print this page

July 20, 2009 by Canadian Plastics

The biggest contribution that plastics materials make to the reduction of greenhouse gases lies in insulation, according to a new report.

The analysis – prepared by consultants McKinsey, supported by Oko Institut, and sponsored by the International Council of Chemical Associations – found that insulation accounts for 40 per cent of all identified CO2 savings generated across the insulation materials field.

Presented in a 105-page report, the report is designed to compare the emissions by the chemical industry with the benefits of its products in use after a detailed life cycle analysis.

After evaluating 25 examples, McKinsey calculated that foam insulation generated 10 million tons of CO2 emissions but resulted in nearly 2.5 billion tons of C02 “abatements”. Plastic packaging, automotive plastics and plastics employed in piping also scored well on the greenhouse gas saving list, the report concluded.

The study also quantifies the use of energy consumption by the chemical industry and demonstrates economies that have already been made; between 1990 and 2005, for example, chemical production in the European Union rose by 60 per cent while energy use remained stable.

“The chemical industry has taken the lead in setting out how the sector can and does contribute to global targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Chemical Industries Association chief executive Steve Elliott.