The health and environmental impacts of plastics are a global crisis. Scientific evidence shows that we have broken through the “planetary boundaries” for chemical and plastics pollution, meaning that production and emissions may be threatening the stability of the entire global ecosystem.
See IPEN’s Quick Views and other resources for the Plastics Treaty INC-1 here.
To best understand what plastics pollution is, one must understand what plastic is: a material made from carbon (fossil fuels) and chemicals. Plastics do not exist without chemicals, and harmful chemicals are released at every phase of the plastics life cycle – from oil extraction to plastics production, transport, use, and disposal.
Over 10,000 chemicals in plastics have been identified, and data on more than 2,400 of these chemicals has identified them as substances of concern (there is incomplete or no hazard data on hundreds of other plastic chemicals). Toxic chemicals in plastics have been linked to cancers, damage to the immune and reproductive systems, impaired intellectual functions, developmental delays, and other serious health conditions. Evidence suggests that we are already seeing serious health problems from chemical exposures throughout the plastics lifecycle.
Learn more in this “Introduction to Plastics and Toxic Chemicals,” with a foreword by Bethanie Carney Almroth, Patricia Villarubia-Gómez, and Zhanyun Wang, co-authors of the 2022 publication on plastics and chemical production exceeding the Earth’s “planetary boundaries,” meaning that production and emissions may be threatening the stability of the entire global ecosystem.