Trucost’s latest study, “Plastics and Sustainability: A Valuation of Environmental Benefits, Costs
and Opportunities for Continuous Improvement,”
  The study found that the environmental costs
of using plastics in consumer goods and packaging is nearly four times less than using
alternative materials.

Trucost estimates that swapping plastic for alternatives such as glass, tin or aluminum would
increase environmental costs from $139 billion to $533 billion — that’s taking into account ocean
damage, end-of-life management, transportation, production and material and energy recovery
costs and impact”

Well this is a turn up! – although if anyone had asked us, we could have told them that plastic is
pretty fantastic. Apart from being lightweight, strong, flexible and waterproof, there is nothing like
it when it comes to protecting food and other goods from damage and contamination and bringing
them home from the shops. It is also made from a by-product of oil refining which used to be
wasted, and while we have that resource it makes sense to use it.

Oxo-biodegradable (controlled-life) plastic See is even more fantastic because as
well as being indistinguishable from conventional plastic for all intents and purposes, it also
becomes biodegradable, which means that if it escapes collection and ends up in the open
environment, it will not be around for decades.

Recent  life cycle assessment comparing oxo-biodegradable, bio-based, conventional, paper and
cotton re-usable bags  –  have concluded that
oxo-biodegradable (controlled-life) plastic is more environmentally friendly than bio-based
(sometimes called compostable),  conventional, paper and cotton re-usable bags when
energy, land use, water, fertilizers, fuel, transport and emissions were examined.

Better still, if collected during their useful life, oxo-biodegradable bags can be recycled with
conventional plastic See and can be made in existing
plastic factories with existing workforce, machinery and raw materials for little or no extra
cost and the approximate life of the bag can be set at manufacture.

However, if an oxo-biodegradable bag escapes collection and finds its way into the open
environment on land or sea, See  it will
degrade and biodegrade in months rather than years until there is nothing left, no
fragments of plastic or toxic residues, in the same way as a leaf, only quicker.

So this is something we can do to help the environment right now, and a new perspective
is very welcome. It’s a faint hope, but perhaps those seeking to rid the world of plastic
bags will consider the report and the benefits that this new technology can offer.