Choose from the list of topics below.

Economics
Marine Debris
Recycling
Recovery
Life Cycle Studies and Environmental Product Declarations
Community Tools
Electronics

Economics

The surge of natural gas production from shale has reversed the fortunes of the U.S. plastics industry. Because the competitiveness of plastic resins depends on energy costs—in particular, the difference between oil and natural gas prices—shale gas development has changed the competitive landscape for U.S. plastics.

  • Executive Summary: Population Growth and Materials Demand Study [August 2019]
    This report examines global mega trends that will affect future demand for plastics; economic variables and commodity material demand for things like food, drinking water, personal care products, health/medical care, fuel-efficient cars, energy-efficient homes, and connectivity; and potential demand for plastics and other materials. It also provides regional analyses. This Executive Summary was prepared by IHS Market in August 2019.

  • Full Report: The Rising Competitive Advantage of U.S. Plastics [May 2015]
    This report provides statistics—including investment, jobs creation, output and exports—on economic impacts of shale-advantaged resin for the U.S. plastics industry.

Marine Debris

America's plastics makers are committed to working on the problem of ocean litter. We support efforts to reduce waste, increase recycling and litter prevention programs, and foster regional and global partnerships.

Recycling

This includes a broad range of information focusing on plastic benefits, plastics packaging, material comparison studies, lists of recycled products and their manufacturers, and more!

« back to top

Recovery

Life Cycle Studies and Environmental Product Declarations

These publications contain more detailed environmental information, focusing on energy use, recycling, waste impact, source reduction, etc. They also compare the energy use, environmental emissions and waste impact of plastic and alternative materials.

  • Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Inventory of Plastics Resins and Polyurethane Precursors
    Updated Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Analyses are being conducted for nine plastics resins and four polyurethane (PU) precursors. These reports provide current data that quantify the total energy requirements, energy sources, atmospheric pollutants, waterborne pollutants, and solid waste resulting from the production of commonly used plastic materials in North America. Final reports are available for the following resins: High-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), and olefins. Reports for the remaining resins and PU precursors will include: polypropylene (PP), general-purpose polystyrene (GPPS), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), flexible foam PU polyether polyols, rigid foam PU polyether polyols, methylene diphenylene diisocyanate (MDI), and toluene diisocyanate (TDI). » HDPE » LDPE » LLDPE » Olefins

  • LCI Summary for Four Half-Gallon Milk Containers
    The ACC Plastics Division chose the primary packaging of three common consumer products from the 2007 report, A Study of Packaging Efficiency as it Relates to Waste Prevention, on which to perform life cycle inventory (LCI) case studies. Primary packaging for milk was chosen as one of these case studies. This summary evaluates the life cycle inventory results of the primary package for 10,000 half-gallon milk containers as sold in each packaging system.

  • Role of Plastics in Decoupling Municipal Solid Waste and Economic Growth in the U.S.
    A new study by the Earth Engineering Center at The City College of New York finds that plastics play a role in creating an environment where Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generation rates actually decline, even with rises in per capita income and consumption.

  • Life Cycle Impacts of Plastic Packaging Compared To Substitutes in the United States and Canada: Theoretical Substitution Analysis
    The goal of this report is to use LCA methodology to assess the environmental impacts of plastics packaging relative to alternative packaging in North America and answer the question: "If plastic packaging were replaced with alternative types of packaging, how would environmental impacts be affected?"

  • Study Finds Plastics Reduce Environmental Costs By Nearly 4 Times Compared to Alternatives
    Replacing plastics in consumer products and packaging with a mix of alternative materials that provide the same function would increase environmental costs from $139 billion to $533 billion annually.

  • Packaging Flexes Its Resource Efficiency
    Plastic packaging is lightweight, cost-efficient and does a great job protecting and preserving food. And that's just the beginning of the story.

  • 2016: A Study of Packaging Efficiency as it Relates to Waste Prevention   
    This study from the ULS Report provides clear and compelling examples of the value of source reduction as a strategy for developing and evaluating sustainable packaging.  » 2007

  • Life Cycle Assessment for Three Types of Grocery Bags – Recyclable Plastic; Compostable, Biodegradable Plastic; and Recycled, Recyclable Paper
    The results show that single use plastic bags made from polyethylene have many advantages over both compostable bags made from a blend of EcoFlex, polylactic acid or PLA and calcium carbonate; and paper bags made with a minimum of 30% recycled fiber.

  • Impact of Plastics Packaging on Life Cycle Energy Consumption & Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United States and Canada
    Prepared by Franklin Associates for the American Chemistry Council and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, this study assessed the energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions of six general categories of plastic packaging produced and sold in the United States and Canada. These include caps and closures, beverage containers, other rigid containers, carrier bags, stretch/shrink wrap, and other flexible packaging. The assessment found that for the baseline year 2010, replacing all plastic packaging with non-plastic alternatives for these six types of packaging in the United States would: require 4.5 times as much packaging material by weight, increase energy use by 80 percent, and result in 130 percent more global warming potential.

  • 2011 Study: Polystyrene Foam Cups and Plates Use Less Energy, Water Than Paper or Corn-based Alternatives
    The primary intended use of the 2011 study by Franklin Associates is to provide the Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group (PFPG) with more complete information about the environmental burdens and greenhouse gas impacts from the life cycle of disposable foodservice products.

  • Innovations for Greenhouse Gas Reductions: A Life Cycle Quantification of Carbon Abatement Solutions Enabled by the Chemical Industry
    Conducted by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, this study used a life cycle carbon dioxide-equivilent (CO2e) emissions analysis to assess the global chemical industry’s greenhouse gas emissions through the life cycle of chemical products and the applications they enable. Analyses were performed for over 100 individual product applications. The study confirms a key role for the chemical industry in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and highlights the important role of plastic products, such as building insulation, packaging, auto parts, and pipe.  » full report | » executive summary

  • Brochure: Take a Closer Look at Today's Polystyrene Packaging—Safe, Affordable and Environmentally Responsible
    With today’s growing concerns about the environment and climate change, polystyrene packaging solutions are becoming more recognized as environmentally-preferable for a host of reasons including their lightweight properties. Polystyrene packaging makes sense for business, consumers, and our planet.

  • Plastics: An Energy Efficient Choice
    Compares the energy used in producing plastic packaging and common non-plastic alternatives.

  • Understanding Plastic Film
    A white paper that provides an understanding of what film is, its wide range of applications and contributions to resource conservation.

  • Plastics' Energy and Greenhouse Gas Savings Using Housewrap
    This study is an analysis of the energy savings and related reduction in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the use of an exterior barrier to airflow applied to single family houses.

  • Plastics' Energy and Greenhouse Gas Savings Using Refrigerator and Freezer Insulation  
    This document is a case study that examines the greenhouse gas emissions implications of using plastic foam insulation in refrigerators and freezers.

  • Impact of Plastics Packaging on Life Cycle Energy Consumption & Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United States and Canada
    Prepared by Franklin Associates for the American Chemistry Council and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, this study assessed the energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions of six general categories of plastic packaging produced and sold in the United States and Canada. These include caps and closures, beverage containers, other rigid containers, carrier bags, stretch/shrink wrap, and other flexible packaging. The assessment found that for the baseline year 2010, replacing all plastic packaging with non-plastic alternatives for these six types of packaging in the United States would: require 4.5 times as much packaging material by weight, increase energy use by 80 percent, and result in 130 percent more global warming potential.

  • Plastics vs. Steel: Is Automotive Light Weighting A No-Brainer?
    The life cycle performance of polymers in comparison to commonly used steel alloys was assessed in automotive applications. The cradle-to-grave LCA considers a total service life of 150,000 miles for two case studies: A 46 percent lighter plastic bolster on the 2010 Ford Taurus that replaced the 2008 plastic and steel bolster and, a 51 percent lighter plastic running board for the Chevrolet Trailblazer/GMC that replaced the previous steel running board. The life cycle stages included in these critically reviewed and ISO compliant LCA studies address the production of upstream materials and energy, product manufacturing, use, and the end-of-life treatment for all materials used throughout the life cycle.
  • Life Cycle Inventory of Plastic Fabrication Processes: Injection Molding and Thermoforming
    The intent of the study was to develop unit process data sets for two rigid plastic product fabrication methods using primary data from plastic converters. The data quality goal for this study was to use data that most accurately represents current U.S. rigid plastic fabrication processes.

  • Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Inventory of Nine Plastics Resins and Four Polyurethane Precursors
    This newly revised report, “Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Inventory of Nine Plastics Resins and Four Polyurethane Precursors (2011),” provides current data that quantify the total energy requirements, energy sources, atmospheric pollutants, waterborne pollutants, and solid waste resulting from the production of commonly used plastic materials in North America. The plastic resins studied are: High-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), general-purpose polystyrene (GPPS), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS). The four polyurethane precursors include flexible foam polyurethane (PU) polyether polyols, rigid foam PU polyether polyols, methylene diphenylene diisocyanate (MDI), and toluene diisocyanate (TDI). » report only | » appendices only

  • Life Cycle Inventory of 100% Post-consumer HDPE and PET Recycled Resin from Post-consumer Containers and Packaging
    Sponsored by ACC, APR, NAPCOR and PETRA, this 2011 study by Franklin Associates uses life cycle inventory (LCI) methodology to quantify the energy requirements, solid wastes, and atmospheric and waterborne emissions for the processes required to collect post-consumer PET and HDPE packaging, sort and separate the material, and reprocess it into clean recycled resin.

  • Plastic Packaging Life Cycle Inventory Studies for Coffee, Tuna and Milk Containers
    Plastic packaging is often lighter than packaging made from alternative materials. These three 2008 reports by Franklin Associates quantify the environmental benefits of lighter, or source-reduced, packaging throughout the life cycle of each product in terms of reduced energy use, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and less waste.  » coffee study » tuna study | » milk study

  • Life Cycle Inventory of Polystyrene Foam, Bleached Paperboard, and Corrugated Paperboard Foodservice Products
    This peer-reviewed 2006 study from Franklin Associates Ltd. provides an extensive and comparative look at the energy and environmental performance of foodservice packaging products made with polystyrene foam, bleached paperboard or corrugated paperboard.

  • Resource and Environmental Profile Analysis of Polyethylene Milk Bottles and Polyethylene-coated Paperboard Milk Cartons
    The purpose of this study is to quantify the energy requirements and environmental emissions of both 128-ounce and 64-ounce high-density polyethylene (HDPE) milk bottles and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) paperboard milk cartons.

« back to top

Community Tools:

Here, the recycling coordinator and industry employee will most likely find valuable information on solid waste management and tools to promote these programs to communities.

  • Perfecting the Plastics Drop-off
    A practical guide for designing and reducing contamination in a drop-off program.

  • Sorting Plastic Bottles for Recycling  
    This Guide is intended for existing MRF operators, potential new MRF owners and design engineers. Information presented in this Guide can be used to improve the efficiency of sorting and recovering plastic containers collected from the residential and commercial recyclables streams.

  • MRF Model User's Guide  
    You may wish to go a step further in analyzing the operations at your MRF by taking advantage of the Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC) MRF Model, which was used as an analytical tool during preparation of the Guide. The EPIC MRF Model is a MS-Excel 5.0 spreadsheet tool that helps you systematically analyze certain operating and cost parameters at your MRF.

    « back to top

Electronics:

« back to top


Learn More

Plastics Statistics

The Plastics Industry Producers Statistics Group (PIPS) provides relevant, timely, comprehensive and extensive business statistics on the plastic resins industry.