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Open AccessArticle

Sustainability Assessment of a Single-Use Plastics Ban

1
Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1PZ, UK
2
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; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093746
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. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093746

AMA Style

Herberz T, Barlow CY, Finkbeiner M. Sustainability Assessment of a Single-Use Plastics Ban. Sustainability. 2020; 12(9):3746. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093746

Chicago/Turabian Style

Herberz, Timo; Barlow, Claire Y.; Finkbeiner, Matthias. 2020. "Sustainability Assessment of a Single-Use Plastics Ban" Sustainability 12, no. 9: 3746. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093746

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