Members of Congress have introduced several proposals to regulate plastics, which as I noted here and here, could basically destroy the U.S. plastics industry, and force us to source materials from countries like China or find other alternatives. Before anyone seriously considers these proposals, we suggest they take a deep dive into the issue to discover why we have these products in the first place—and the ramifications if we were to pursue such extreme policies.
To that end, CEI has launched a series of four papers on plastics, the first of which we release today. The paper details how plastics have helped wildlife and the environment. It also provides information on what plastics are exactly and how they are made. Believe it or not, banning all plastic products, or even a good number of them, would have devastatingly bad impacts on wildlife.
Often left out of the conversation about switching to “natural” or “renewable” resources, instead of using synthetic products like plastics, is the fact that we have to harvest such resources from wild animals—such as ivory from elephants—or farm them and thereby reduce wildlife habitat. And those activities have impacts—often far worse for the environment than synthetic plastics. You can learn more about that by reading the paper.
The next paper in the series will cover the impact and value that plastics have for humanity, enriching our lives in many ways, including helping improve our health and ability to fight dangerous diseases, including COVID-19. The third paper will address legitimate concerns about the impact of plastics litter on the environment, particularly wildlife, and how we can address those problems without banning useful products. The final paper in this series specifically addresses the unworkable legislation proposed on Capitol Hill, and why it won’t solve problems associated with ocean pollution.