Policy Update

First in Science: The Hidden Costs of Plastic



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New Report Highlights Health Risks of Plastics from Every Stage of Life Cycle

Many studies have looked at the health impacts of specific stages in plastic’s life-cycle but a new report called the Hidden Costs of Plastics is the first to compile all the public health risks of each stage, including extraction, manufacturing, usage, and disposal. The report highlights that to truly address the issue of plastic pollution and help protect public health, plastic pollution policies must address each stage of the life-cycle.

Importance of the Report

Discussions on plastics and public health are often centered around a specific stage of plastics – such as use or waste management. However, that doesn’t include the full picture. In reality, there are additional health risks starting at the point of extraction (before the plastic is even created) and after they are disposed (continuing decades to centuries later). For example, most plastics produced today are derived from fossil fuels, and after disposal, these plastics break down into microplastics, which have invaded our food and water sources. This report has compiled all the health impacts of each stage into one document. While there are still knowledge gaps regarding the full health implications of plastics, this report establishes that there are real health concerns that come with the extraction, manufacturing, use, and disposal of plastics.

States Are Taking Action

States across the country are working to combat plastic pollution and the associated negative health impacts. Currently, 30 states are considering over 180 pieces of legislation to address plastic pollution. For more information, visit ncel.net/plastic-pollution.

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