Plastics and Climate Change: Consequences of Plastics Production, Use, and Disposal as a Major Contributor to Climate Warming and Harm to Health

February 23, 2022
4:00 pm US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources


‘The New Coal’ press release – https://www.beyondplastics.org/press-releases/report-plastics-is-the-new-coal

‘The New Coal’ report –  https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5eda91260bbb7e7a4bf528d8/t/616ef29221985319611a64e0/1634661022294/REPORT_The_New-Coal_Plastics_and_Climate-Change_10-21-2021.pdf

Beyond Plastics Website – https://www.beyondplastics.org/

Material Research Website – https://materialresearch.net/

In 2018 and 2019, CHE produced a 4-part webinar series entitled ‘The Effects of Plastics on Health’. This is a link to  https://www.healthandenvironment.org/our-work/webinars/plastics-and-health-webinar-series. Note, Jim Vallette was a speaker in the first webinar on Plastic Production.

Beyond Plastics webinar on the findings of their recent report, ‘The New Coal: Plastics and Climate Change’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTLewVfb_uw


Download our Webinar Highlights fact sheet for key findings and quotes from this webinar.


Plastics have become an everyday part of our lives, including the many unintended consequences of plastic production, use, and disposal. Chemicals added to plastics – to make them stronger, more flexible, or UV resistant - have been found to be toxic and have widespread adverse effects on environmental and human health. The production and disposal of plastics is unjustly concentrated near low-income communities and communities of color. To add to this list, and the subject of this webinar, it is clear from the findings of a recent report that plastics are a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions and climate warming.

Beyond Plastics’ recent report is entitled ‘The New Coal: Plastics and Climate Change’. The report documents the ‘less-talked about’ relationship between plastics and greenhouse gas emissions, detailing the impacts of each stage of the plastic cycle from fracking and cracking of hydrocarbons to create plastic feedstocks, to off-gassing during their usable life, and the disposal of plastics through burial, incineration, and as litter. Motivated to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions, the US shut down many coal-fired power plants in recent years. However, the growing US plastics industry – this ‘New Coal’ - is on track to produce more greenhouse gas emissions than these reductions. 

Featured Speakers

Judith Enckis the founder and president of Beyond Plastics, an initiative that works on plastic pollution issues. She is a senior fellow and visiting faculty member at Bennington College where she teaches classes on plastics pollution. She is also a former EPA Regional Administrator and the former deputy secretary for the environment for the New York Governor’s Office.

Jim Vallette, PhD, is the co-founder and president of Material Research L3C, a small, low-profit business based in Maine. Jim and his international team specialize in analyzing the global supply chains and impacts of toxic chemicals, greenhouse gases, and waste. Material Research primarily works with non-profit, academic, and government institutions, helping these organizations and individuals with research, analysis and presentation of information important to their respective mission.

This call was hosted by the CHE-Alaska Partnership, which is coordinated by Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT).