By allowing manufacturers and consumers to do more with less, using plastics can help reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions throughout the life of a product or package.
Plastic packaging helps make loads lighter which means companies can ship more product with less fuel. In construction—plastics help maximize energy efficiency, durability and performance. Plastics used in cars helps make them lighter and more fuel efficient. And from appliances to electronics plastics can help to achieve greater energy efficiency over the course of a product’s life.
A recent European study found that replacing plastics with other materials would require the use of 57 percent more energy and result in a 61 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions.1
Plastic Packaging Helps Do More with Less
Plastics help us to do more with less in many ways. When it comes to packaging, plastics often enable manufacturers to ship more product with less packaging material. This process of light-weighting can play an important role in boosting the environmental and economic efficiency of consumer product packaging.
For example, just 2 pounds of plastic can deliver 1000 ounces—roughly 8 gallons—of a beverage. Three pounds of aluminum, 8 pounds of steel or 27 pounds of glass would be needed to deliver the same amount. » learn more
Home Energy Savings: Adding It All Up
Many plastic building products promote the efficient use of energy and other respources. A one-year study1 found that the use of plastic building and construction materials saved 467.2 trillion Btu of energy over alternative construction materials. That’s enough energy saved over the course of a year to meet the average annual energy needs of 4.6 million U.S. households.2
From roofing, walls, windows and more—architects and designers rely on plastics to help maximize energy efficiency. » learn more
Lighter, More Fuel Efficient Vehicles
Automotive components designed in plastic and plastic-metal hybrids have achieved significant weight savings over some conventional designs. As the use of plastics in vehicle manufacturing increases, lightweighting design techniques—the integration of plastics and polymer composites into vehicle design where some materials have been traditionally used—can benefit performance, safety and energy savings. » learn more
Efficient Appliances and Electronics
Plastics enable many of our favorite electronics to do more with less. For instance, plastics are essential to advances in weight reduction and miniaturization in many electronic products, so less material is used in production. In addition, plastics can be engineered to meet very specific performance requirements, often helping to achieve greater energy efficiency over the course of a product’s life.
Now, with the recent developments and enhancements in the national infrastructure for the recycling of used electronics, it has never been easier to recyle things like old phones or computers. » learn more
1 Denkstatt GmbH. The impact of plastics on life cycle energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. Vienna, Austria. June 2010, p. 11.
2 Source: Franklin Associates, Ltd., U.S. DOE and U.S. Census Bureau