The Plastic Economy

Environmental Defense Fund Economics Discussion Paper Series, EDF EDP 21-05

49 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2021

See all articles by Lihini De Silva

Lihini De Silva

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jacqueline Doremus

Cal Poly

Rebecca Taylor

The University of Sydney - School of Economics

Date Written: June 3, 2021

Abstract

The proliferation of plastic has generated wide-ranging consequences in terms of waste management, pollution, human and animal health, the economy and the environment. This report reviews the literature on the impacts of plastic, both positive and negative. We begin with a brief explanation of the processes by which plastic is produced and an overview of the structure of the plastic economy. We then discuss the impacts of plastic, organized by whether they occur upstream, midstream or downstream. Next, we compare virgin plastic production against a range of alternative materials and processes that have been developed with the aim of matching the physical characteristics of plastics while contributing less to the problem of waste generation. Lastly, acknowledging the transboundary challenge of plastic pollution, we examine plastic regulations and discuss evidence of their efficacy at reducing plastic use and pollution.

Keywords: Plastic production, microplastics, macroplastics, plastic pollution, plastic alternatives, plastic policy.

JEL Classification: Q52, Q53, Q54, Q55, Q58

Suggested Citation

De Silva, Lihini and Doremus, Jacqueline and Taylor, Rebecca, The Plastic Economy (June 3, 2021). Environmental Defense Fund Economics Discussion Paper Series, EDF EDP 21-05, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3859528 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3859528

Lihini De Silva

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jacqueline Doremus

Cal Poly ( email )

San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/jdoremus/Home

Rebecca Taylor (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney - School of Economics ( email )

Rm 370 Merewether (H04)
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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