TCoPS - 15

The first part of this chapter provides an estimate
of what is considered the minimum cost societies,
corporates and governments will have to pay
because of the plastic lifecycle. In this section, only
components for which there is sufficient research to be able to
quantify the costs are included.
The second part of this chapter shares perspectives
on additional costs that are not integrated into the
cost estimate as research is still in progress. However,
the presence of these costs means that the burden countries
bear from the plastic lifecycle is even higher than the current
cost estimate suggests.
The third part of this chapter provides projections
for how these costs could grow under a business as
usual (BAU) scenario.
PLASTIC'S MARKET PRICE MAKES IT A RELATIVELY
CHEAP COMMODITY, BUT THE ACTUAL COST
INCURRED OVER THE PLASTIC LIFECYCLE IS AT LEAST
TEN TIMES HIGHER - FOR EXAMPLE, US$3.7 TRILLION
(+/-US$1 TRILLION) FOR JUST THE PLASTICS
PRODUCED IN 2019. (see Figure 4)
The minimum cost that the plastic produced in
2019 will incur over its lifetime is estimated at
US$3.7 trillion (+/-US$1 trillion),48
with more than
90% of that cost not included in the market price
of plastics. This includes the cost of GHG emissions and
waste management costs, which society, governments and
therefore corporates and citizens have to pay. The lifetime
cost of plastic is a huge burden on society. The lifetime cost
of the plastic produced in 2019 is more than India's GDP (See
Figure 5).49
Figure 4: The lifetime cost of plastic produced in 2019 is ten
times greater than the market cost
X10
Market Cost
Societal Lifetime Cost
171 3,716
3.9
3.7
3,142
370
1
MARKET COST
32
2
MANAGED
WASTE
COST
3
ECOSYSTEM
SERVICE COSTS
ON MARINE
ECOSYSTEM
4
LIFECYCLE
GHG COSTS
Note: Numbers in the figure are rounded to the nearest billion.
LIFETIME
COST OF
PLASTIC
2.9
The market cost of plastic produced in 2019 is
approximately US$370 billion based on the price
primary plastic producers paid for virgin plastic.51,
90% of plastic produced uses virgin fossil fuel feedstocks,52
which means the price of plastic is directly linked to the cost
of oil and gas. Large subsidies for the fossil fuel industry have
contributed to the relatively cheap price of virgin plastic.
Therefore, when only considering its market price, plastic can
appear to be a relatively cheap commodity.
Across the lifecycle, plastic is a significant emitter of
GHG, with the emissions resulting from the plastic
produced in 2019 imposing a cost of more than
What is virgin plastic? Virgin plastic is the direct
output produced from refining a petrochemical
feedstock, such as natural gas or crude oil, which has
never been used or processed before.
US$171 billion, equivalent to more than a third of
spending on energy transitions globally in 2020.53
Across its lifecycle, plastic is responsible for generating 1.8
billion tonnes of GHG emissions a year54
That is more than the annual emissions from aviation and
shipping combined.55
the fifth-highest GHG emitter in the world.56
flooding,58
If plastic were a country, it would be
These GHG
emissions are accelerating the surge of climate-change related
negative impacts such as shrinking glaciers,57
crop death from more intense droughts,59
and
imposing huge
costs on governments and society. These already significant
costs are only a beginning, as research indicates that the
economic cost of climate change will only increase.60
(see Deep Dive 1).
Figure 5: The lifetime cost of the plastic produced in 2019 is
more than India's GDP (US$ trillion).50
5.1
15
JAPAN
GERMANY
PLASTIC
INDIA

TCoPS

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of TCoPS

TCoPS - 1
TCoPS - 2
TCoPS - 3
TCoPS - 4
TCoPS - 5
TCoPS - 6
TCoPS - 7
TCoPS - 8
TCoPS - 9
TCoPS - 10
TCoPS - 11
TCoPS - 12
TCoPS - 13
TCoPS - 14
TCoPS - 15
TCoPS - 16
TCoPS - 17
TCoPS - 18
TCoPS - 19
TCoPS - 20
TCoPS - 21
TCoPS - 22
TCoPS - 23
TCoPS - 24
TCoPS - 25
TCoPS - 26
TCoPS - 27
TCoPS - 28
TCoPS - 29
TCoPS - 30
TCoPS - 31
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TCoPS - 33
TCoPS - 34
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TCoPS - 38
TCoPS - 39
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TCoPS - 48
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http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/livingplanet_summary
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/livingplanet_full
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/conversation_strategy
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/annualreview2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/annualreview2015
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/annualreview2013
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/dalbergreport2013-de
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/dalbergreport2013-fr
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/dalbergreport2013
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwf_france/rapport_dactivite_2011-2012
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/annualreview2012
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