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A report published Thursday from Beyond Plastics, a nonprofit working to end single-use plastic pollution, finds that the U.S. plastics industry is the source of 232 million tons of greenhouse gases per year, 15 million tons of which comes from burning plastics in municipal waste.
“We are in a climate crisis,” said Judith Enck, founder and president of Beyond Plastics. “If we have any hope of effectively driving down greenhouse gas emissions, the production and use and disposal of plastics has to be on the agenda.”
The authors compare the rapid buildout of U.S. plastics production infrastructure with the gradual phaseout of coal power plants, finding that the emissions from plastics could exceed those from coal in the United States by 2030.