How Much Does an Environment Cost?
Morgan Stanley has come out with an analysis of the anti-plastic movement. Written from the investment perspective, the report has some very interesting facts:
-- Nearly 13 million tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean each year, and at the current pace there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.
-- The complexity of plastic and low margins for recycling it means that most single-use plastic waste gets buried in a landfill or incinerated.
-- The U.S. is by far the world's biggest user of plastic (other research indicates that China is by far the biggest source of ocean plastic debris).
" Whether it's used for take-out food, bottled water or household products, plastic is an ideal material; it's light, durable and cheap. Yet, the same qualities that have increased global demand for single-use plastic twentyfold since the 1960s are also taking a toll on the environment and our health," the report says.
The report says that alternatives to plastic have a much greater environmental cost: $553 billion for glass, tin, aluminum, etc., vs $139 billion for current plastic. That estimate came from a 2016 report commissioned by the American Chemistry Council, an industry group.
That doesn't automatically disqualify their conclusions, but it's a red flag. That report seems to be cited a lot by defenders of single-use plastic. I've always wondered about the methodology they used. How would you price a turtle choked with plastic straws, or the whale that died from starvation because it had ingested 20 pounds of plastic bags? How much does an ocean full of trash cost?
The cost of one glass or steel bottle refilled over a lifetime simply cannot be compared with cost of all the single-use plastic bottles the average person buys and tosses.
Don't trash it!