Help Lower Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
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. 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
Much of the packaging we use in the United States is made from plastics. In addition to increasing the shelf life of foods and beverages, plastics help reduce our environmental foot print by lowering energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. A
recent life cycle study
found that replacing all plastic packaging in the United States with alternatives would increase energy use by 80 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 130 percent. >>
Savings: Adding It All Up
Many plastic building products promote the efficient use of energy and other resources. A
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.
From roofing, walls, windows and more—architects and designers rely on plastics to help maximize energy efficiency.
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Fuel Efficient Vehicles
Reducing vehicle weight can have a significant effect on fuel efficiency and emissions. For every 10-percent weight reduction achieved, a vehicle’s fuel economy can improve by six to eight percent. Automotive components designed in plastic and plastic-metal hybrids
have achieved significant weight savings over some conventional designs. Today’s plastics typically make up 50 percent of a vehicle’s volume, but only 10 percent of its weight. The growing use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics could one day improve fuel efficiency by about 35 percent.
 Denkstatt GmbH. The impact of plastics on life cycle energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. Vienna, Austria. June 2010, p. 11.