• February 2, 2019
  • OECD

OECD | Considerations and Criteria for Sustainable Plastics from a Chemicals Perspective

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SUMMARY - Sustainable plastics are plastic materials used in products that provide societal benefits while enhancing human and environmental health and safety across the entire product life cycle. To be considered sustainable, plastics must be managed within a sustainable materials management system (a Circular Economy)1 to avoid the creation of waste, toxics and pollution. Even readily recyclable plastics derived from non-toxic constituents are not sustainable plastics if they end up as litter and pollute land and oceans. Creating sustainable plastics is challenging because it involves not only the development or selection of materials for use in high-performing products, but also the design of a material ecosystem in which products are made, used, and from which sustainable value from the plastics is recaptured after use. Sustainable plastics must be part of a holistic and principle-based approach to sustainable material flows. While it may not be possible to call a plastic sustainable outside of how it is used in a product, it is possible to establish criteria for plastics that are not sustainable. For example, non-recyclable plastics containing highly toxic chemicals to which workers, users, recyclers or the environment may be exposed should not be considered sustainable, even if they serve potentially valuable functions.



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