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Sustainability Assessment of a Single-Use Plastics Ban

Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1PZ, UK
Chair of Sustainable Engineering, Technische Universität Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni 135, 10623 Berlin, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3746;
Received: 5 April 2020 / Revised: 28 April 2020 / Accepted: 30 April 2020 / Published: 5 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Sustainability and Applications)
Governments around the world are introducing single-use plastics bans to alleviate plastic marine pollution. This paper investigates whether banning single-use plastic items is an appropriate strategy to protect the environment. Product life cycle assessment was conducted for single-use plastic and single-use non-plastic alternatives. The life cycle impacts of the two product categories were compared and scaled according to EU consumption of 2016. The results show that a single-use plastics ban would decrease plastic marine pollution in the EU by 5.5% which equates to a 0.06% decrease globally. However, such a ban would increase emissions contributing to marine aquatic toxicity in the EU by 1.4%. This paper concludes that single-use items are harmful to the environment regardless of their material. Therefore, banning or imposing a premium price on single-use items in general and not only single-use plastic items is a more effective method of reducing consumption and thereby pollution. The plastics ban only leads to a small reduction of global plastic marine pollution and thus provides only a partial solution to the problem it intends to solve. View Full-Text
Keywords: single-use plastics; plastics ban; plastic marine pollution; LCA; plastics policy single-use plastics; plastics ban; plastic marine pollution; LCA; plastics policy
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MDPI and ACS Style

Herberz, T.; Barlow, C.Y.; Finkbeiner, M. Sustainability Assessment of a Single-Use Plastics Ban. Sustainability 2020, 12, 3746.

AMA Style

Herberz T, Barlow CY, Finkbeiner M. Sustainability Assessment of a Single-Use Plastics Ban. Sustainability. 2020; 12(9):3746.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Herberz, Timo, Claire Y. Barlow, and Matthias Finkbeiner. 2020. "Sustainability Assessment of a Single-Use Plastics Ban" Sustainability 12, no. 9: 3746.

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