Freedonia Group Analysts Consider the Benefits and History of Single-Use Plastics in New Regulations Report

In less than a century, single-use plastics have changed the way the world lives and works by providing convenience in countless ways. Their relatively small carbon footprint during production makes them attractive for manufacturers, retailers, and other providers.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of single-use plastics is their low cost. The ability to produce thousands of bags, cups, or straws per hour for just pennies is difficult to counter when seeking alternatives. Manufacturers and retailers alike are open to new less expensive ways to run their businesses, but a finding a comparably priced, suitable replacement for the plastics has proved challenging.

For more information visit the study page for Global Single-Use Plastic Packaging Regulations.

Adding to the cost advantage of plastic disposables is their light weight, which makes them less expensive to ship and store than products made of alternative materials. Their low cost means that foodservice outlets, grocers, and other retailers can provide them with purchases at no cost.

In addition to low cost, light weight, and initially low carbon footprint, positive features of plastic disposables include their:

  • good performance
  • versatility
  • ability to promote hygiene
  • recyclability (though rates vary by product and country)
  • durability

Manufacturers continue to develop highly specialized packaging for a large variety of food packaging needs to meet increasing demand for carryout and delivery food service in high- and middle-income countries. Examples of these developments are click-to-close containers, sealable clamshells, and tamper-proof bags.

Additionally, many single-use plastics are recyclable or are made from recyclable materials. Though recycling rules vary by locality and product and can change as technology develops, a growing number of people are requiring recycling of plastic materials by law. Over the last decade, the population covered by such laws has more than doubled.

Contact Corinne Gangloff for an interview with the analyst.

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