War on plastic may do more harm than good, warns think tank

From BBC - March 13, 2018

A green think tank has warned of the risk of unintended consequences from the wave of concern about plastics.

The Green Alliance, a parliamentary group, said plastics played a valuable role and could not be simply abolished.

It wants to transform the notion of a "War on Plastics" into a "War on Plastic Litter".

The group - like many environmentalists - gave a grudging welcome to Chancellor Philip Hammond's call for evidence on taxes on single use plastics.

But it warned that rejecting all plastic food packaging could prove counter-productive.

Agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, so reducing food waste is vital.

Well-packed food - perhaps in plastic - helps protect food from damage, so it can actually save on greenhouse gases.

Finite land

The other potential area of concern is the substitution of plastics with plant-based materials.

Forests are already being felled to grow crops to feed the world's booming demand for meat production and wild land is also disappearing to produce bio-fuels for cars and electricity generation. But there is a finite amount of land.

The Green Alliance fears that a demand for plastic substitutes could also increase the pressure for deforestation.

This would, in turn, lead to more greenhouse gases that would warm and acidify the oceans people are anxious to protect.

The Green Alliance's Libby Peake told BBC News: "Plastics are clearly a huge problem but we have concerns that legitimate public outrage will lead businesses and governments to rush into the wrong decisions.

Marine pollution


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