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Five Misperceptions Surrounding the Environmental Impacts of Single-Use Plastic

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This article explores five commonly held perceptions that do not correspond with current scientific knowledge surrounding the environmental impacts of single-use plastic. These misperceptions include: (1) plastic packaging is the largest contributor to the environmental impact of a product; (2) plastic has the most environmental impact of all packaging materials; (3) reusable products are always better than single-use plastics; (4) recycling and composting should be the highest priority; (5) “zero waste” efforts that eliminate single-use plastics minimize the environmental impacts of an event. This paper highlights the need for environmental scientists and engineers to put the complex environmental challenges of plastic waste into better context, integrating a holistic, life cycle perspective into research efforts and discussions that shape public policy.

Research Areas
Consumer Products & Packaging
Food Systems and Consumer Products
Publication Type
Journal Article
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Full Citation
Miller, Shelie. (2020) “Five Misperceptions Surrounding the Environmental Impacts of Single-Use Plastic.” Environmental Science and Technology 54(22): 14143-14151.