International Chemical Group Warns Plastics Cap Would Increase Consumer Prices

April 23, 2024
Oxford Economics study suggests efforts to curb production are misguided.

A proposed production cap on virgin plastics would lead to higher prices and have significant negative impacts the manufacturing supply chain, according to an Oxford Economics study commissioned by the International Council of Chemical Environment Assembly.

Oxford Economics released the study ahead of global plastics treaty negotiations taking place April 23-29 in Ottawa, Ontario.

The meeting is the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.

Several countries and environmental groups have called on plastics producers to cut production to eliminate waste.

But a production cap would increase the price of virgin plastic and increase consumer costs, according to the Oxford Economics study. Other study findings:

  • Higher prices of virgin plastic will raise production costs for first-tier manufacturers in the value chain.
  • Higher consumer prices will impose a disproportionate burden on low-income households, which spend significantly more on plastics as a share of their overall consumption.
  • As the price of primary polymers increases, demand would shift toward alternative products, generating a risk of unintended environmental consequences, including increased greenhouse gas emissions and food waste. The study noted that plastics is appealing for many sustainable applications due to its light weight.
  • Alternative materials are typically more expensive than plastics, a production cap risks further increases in manufacturers’ production costs.

Last year, Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, called for a policy that would lead to redesigned products that use less plastic, saying “plastic has been the default option in design for too long.

“It is time to redesign products to use less plastic, particularly unnecessary and problematic plastics, to redesign product packaging and shipping to use less plastic, to redesign systems and products for reuse and recyclability and to redesign the broader system for justice,” she said after the second session

About the Author

Jonathan Katz | Executive Editor

Jonathan Katz, executive editor, brings nearly two decades of experience as a B2B journalist to Chemical Processing magazine. He has expertise on a wide range of industrial topics. Jon previously served as the managing editor for IndustryWeek magazine and, most recently, as a freelance writer specializing in content marketing for the manufacturing sector.

His knowledge areas include industrial safety, environmental compliance/sustainability, lean manufacturing/continuous improvement, Industry 4.0/automation and many other topics of interest to the Chemical Processing audience.

When he’s not working, Jon enjoys fishing, hiking and music, including a small but growing vinyl collection.

Jon resides in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.

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