A multitude of factors have to be considered to track a material’s impact on the environment. They range from manufacturing and use, to disposal and recycling.
This is a complicated matter. In many cases, the impact of one or another material can only be identified indirectly. “For example, if I can make perishable foods last longer with special plastic packaging, I can keep consumers from having to throw valuable nutrition away,” Hora says.
The real problem is not the material but rather its use. “When I use and discard a single-use plastic product such as a plastic fork, the result is trash. If I use it again and again, I‘m not generating waste.”