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Strengthening Sustainability in the Plastics Industry

Growing global concerns over climate change are putting an increasing focus on sustainability. This report is part of an occasional series on sustainability in industry which examines the opportunities and challenges facing various industrial sectors and the role that the International Finance Corporation can play to support their efforts and contribute to a greener planet.

Plastics are the building blocks of many value chains, including packaging, health care, construction, aviation, logistics, clothing, and increasingly, the recycling industry. They play a vital role in driving industrial development, creating jobs, expanding opportunities, and generating wealth to improve people’s lives. But as the use of plastic has increased, so too have the environmental and social costs. The production process uses petrochemicals as a raw material and generates greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps the biggest cost is the waste generated by discarded plastic goods. Most of the common plastics of today are not fully biodegradable, and that has created a cascade of environmental, financial, and health problems around the world.

With support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the private sector, the industry is embracing initiatives and investing in novel technologies that can reduce plastic’s environmental footprint and provide broad economic benefits while meeting the growing demand for products made of plastic.

Contents

  • Sector Background
  • Sustainability
  • Challenges & Opportunities
  • IFC Role
  • Conclusion

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More in the series:

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Nov 16, 2021

Strengthening Sustainability in the Cement Industry

Concrete literally holds the modern world together. The material and its binding agent cement comprise a key ingredient in the buildings and roads essential for development and in infrastructure critical to sustainable growth. The cement industry also generates about 7 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. While manufacturers have reduced emissions in recent decades, the industry must accelerate these efforts considerably if it is to meet its goal of achieving carbon-neutral concrete by 2050.

English | 15 pages | IFC 2021

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Aug 3, 2021

Strengthening Sustainability in the Steel Industry

Today, steel is present in virtually every aspect of people’s lives, from homes and hospitals to roads and other infrastructure that provide the foundation for social and economic development. Steel is among the world’s most recycled materials, with circular economy practices incorporated into various stages of the production cycle. Yet the high-temperature heat vital to its production process still requires large amount of energy. Hence, the iron and steel sector remains among the largest consumers of energy and emitters of carbon dioxide, accounting for 6 to 7 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

English | 15 pages | IFC 2021

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Aug 3, 2021

Strengthening Sustainability in the Plastics Industry

Plastics are the building blocks of many value chains, including packaging, health care, construction, aviation, logistics, clothing, and increasingly, the recycling industry. They play a vital role in driving industrial development, creating jobs, expanding opportunities, and generating wealth to improve people’s lives. But as the use of plastic has increased, so too have the environmental and social costs. The production process uses petrochemicals as a raw material and generates greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps the biggest cost is the waste generated by discarded plastic goods. Most of the common plastics of today are not fully biodegradable, and that has created a cascade of environmental, financial, and health problems around the world.

English | 17 pages | IFC 2021

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Aug 3, 2021

Strengthening Sustainability in the Glass Industry

Glass is present in a myriad of products used in both daily life and manufacturing, from beverage containers to windows to fiber optic cables. Its many properties and affordable cost make it an essential material for development, whether in the construction of houses and high rises where people live and work or for use in industries such as agribusiness and automaking.

English | 18 pages | IFC 2021