Plastics scorecard evaluates environmental impact
A new tool for those looking to replace harmful plastics
with more environmentally-friendly alternatives is available.
The “Plastics Scorecard,” developed by Clean Production
Action and Pure Strategies, charts a course for manufacturers,
purchasers and government agencies to evaluate various
plastics based on their impact across their lifecycles
– from feedstock production and manufacturing to use
While plastics are an essential material used in many
products, they often rely on non-renewable resources;
are manufactured with toxic chemicals that can be released
into homes, offices and cars; and typically contain little
to no recycled content. States across the nation have
enacted or are considering legislation aimed at limiting
the use of chemicals in plastics that pose environmental
hazards, but until now there has been no easy-to-use
tool that charts the path to more sustainable alternatives.
“The Scorecard is essentially a decision-making tool
aimed at improving the design of plastic products,” said
Clean Production Action’s research director Mark Rossi.
“As more and more consumers demand products that do not
include toxic chemicals, companies, governments and environmental
organizations need a way to assess the environmental
preferability of the various alternatives.”
In recent years, one of the most commonly used plastics,
polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or “vinyl” has made headlines
as the plastic of greatest concern to human health and
the environment. Safer alternatives are available to
PVC, but companies need a roadmap to ensure they switch
to a significantly greener plastic rather than one that
is only slightly less hazardous.
The Scorecard rates plastics on a set of criteria that
simultaneously advance sustainable raw materials, green
chemistry and closed loop systems. The criteria for moving
up the spectrum toward “preferred plastics” were selected
to progressively increase the sustainability of the plastic
at each stage of its lifecycle.
The Plastics Scorecard grades the different plastics
from F to A+. The parameters can be used to inform the
greener manufacture of plastics as well as the process
of evaluating their sustainability.
Chemicals of high concern may be cancer causing, or toxic
to the reproductive, neurological or endocrine systems.
These chemicals are used in the production of some common
plastics used in household items, such as electronics.
They include PVC, polycarbonate, acrylonitrile butadiene
styrene and polystyrene.