Greenhouse gas emissions and natural capital implications of plastics (including biobased plastics)

06 May 2021

The ETC/WMGE report, focusing on the greenhouse gas emissions released throughout the lifecycle of plastics (including biobased plastics), from extraction over production and conversion until end-of-life. In view of the rising plastics consumption and production trends, a systematic and integrated perspective on plastics and its carbon cycle is important in order to find a way to make plastics compatible with a low-carbon economy - and to reinforce the understanding of the links between the circularity of plastics and climate change. This report provides an analysis of the impacts of all steps in the EU plastics value chain, including feedstock production, refining, cracking, compounding, manufacturing, waste management, excluding the use phase.  The report focuses on both direct and indirect impacts of the European plastic system, including impacts outside Europe but related to plastics consumption in the EU. Further, it offers insights to inform future discussions on the potential and limitations of circular plastics (including biobased plastics) and the corresponding impacts on climate and on natural capital.