Perspectives on Plastic – The Imperative for Better Management

    by Maria Elena Drew, Director of Research, Responsible Investing, T. Rowe Price

    Executive Summary

    Sustainability pressures are expected to change the dynamics of plastic consumption with regulation, innovation, consumer preferences, and corporate responsibility all playing pivotal roles.

    Certainly, the prolific use of plastics and the negative consequences of disposal is a major sustainability problem that the world must solve. However, we would caution that the media hype around plastic’s imminent demise, and the subsequent impact to the industry, is grossly overstated. Our analysis of those industries/sectors most directly impacted support this view, and these insights, in turn, help guide our investment decisions.

    Understanding the magnitude of the problem, both in terms of the environmental impact as well as concerns relating to human health, is central to defining plastic’s role in a sustainable world. Given plastic’s many positive attributes, we believe the sustainability debate should not ultimately be about “if” we use it, but “how” we use it and, crucially, how we dispose of it.

    Ultimately, we believe the magnitude of plastic waste will drive change, and this will fundamentally reshape segments of the plastics industry. This paper analyses the key areas where this reshaping is likely to play out. That said, the changing use of plastic will be gradual and punctuated by regulation and the emergence of technology solutions along the way.

    Read the entire paper here.

    Picture © Shutterstock

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