Publication: « Reducing plastic production: Economic loss or environmental gain? »

Mateo Cordier, Takuro Uehara, Bethany Jorgensen, Juan Baztan. Reducing plastic production: Economic loss or environmental gain?. Cambridge Prisms: Plastics, 2024, pp.1-32. ⟨10.1017/plc.2024.3⟩⟨hal-04430631⟩

We reviewed economic and environmental studies on global plastic pollution and we estimate the global cost of actions towards zero plastic pollution in all countries by 2040 to be US$ 18.3-158.4 trillion (cost of a 47% reduction of plastic production included). If no actions are undertaken, we estimate the cost of damages caused by plastic pollution from 2016-2040 to be US$ 13.7-281.8 trillion. These ranges suggest it is possible that the costs of inaction are significantly higher than those of action. Plastic product sales will also generate a global benefit in the form of incomes (salaries, dividends, etc.) estimated to be US$ 38.0 trillion over 2016-2040 in the case of inaction, and US$ 32.7-33.1 trillion in case of action. Calculating benefit minus costs provides the net benefits: US$ –120.4-19.7 trillion in case of action and US$ –243.8-24.3 trillion in case of inaction. Net benefit ranges suggest action and inaction will both be beneficial when considering the high estimates. However, the low estimates show net benefits might be negative, which suggests inaction might generate a net cost for society that will be twice the cost of action. Our estimates are preliminary (several cost and benefit data are lacking).

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