Author Topic: How much carbon is sequestered in plastic?  (Read 247 times)

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Online brilligtove

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How much carbon is sequestered in plastic?
« on: June 07, 2019, 10:07:46 PM »
I'm not sure how to figure this out. The question occurred to me when thinking about what plastic-eating bacteria would turn the plastic into. I'd expect one of the outputs of decomposition of plastic would be CO2. But how much?
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Online 2397

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Re: How much carbon is sequestered in plastic?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2019, 10:42:47 PM »
https://www.bpf.co.uk/Press/Oil_Consumption.aspx

>Only 4% of global oil production is used for plastics.  87% is used for transport, energy and heating and simply burnt and lost.

So presumably up to 4.6% as much as has been released from the burning of oil. Depending on how that stat looks over time, and how much of historic plastic that's still plastic.

Online CarbShark

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Re: How much carbon is sequestered in plastic?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2019, 11:00:32 PM »
https://www.bpf.co.uk/Press/Oil_Consumption.aspx

>Only 4% of global oil production is used for plastics.  87% is used for transport, energy and heating and simply burnt and lost.

So presumably up to 4.6% as much as has been released from the burning of oil. Depending on how that stat looks over time, and how much of historic plastic that's still plastic.
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Online brilligtove

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Re: How much carbon is sequestered in plastic?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2019, 11:14:20 PM »
Thanks!

Imagine that 4.1% of plastics are stable and used in durable products. (I don't have data on durable/disposable here - just spitballing.) The other 0.5% of global oil production ends up as garbage plastic, mostly in the oceans. Tomorrow, a microorganism evolves to eat that plastic. Through the miracle of exponential growth, in a few months that 0.5% of global oil is now being converted into CO2 (and other metabolic waste).

Is the CO2 more or less worse than the plastic pollution as plastic?

I know that the actual percentages matter in the answer. I've never heard anyone ever talk about sequestration in plastic though, so I'm looking for some notions around what it means.
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