The use of plastic material has grown dramatically since 1950 as a result of the material’s properties (easy to form, low weight, good protection, transparent, relatively cheap, etc). Plastic littering has become a focus issue in recent years. The positive properties of plastic as a product are offset by negatives related to littering. In addition, plastics are mainly made from fossil resources, which results in large climate impacts both related to production and waste treatment (incineration). There is increasing societal focus on recycling, transition to renewable resources and degradable plastics, and reduced plastic consumption.

NORSUS has, for more than 30 years, documented and analysed environmental challenges related to plastics and concluded that defining the plastic product’s function is crucial for environmental impact assessment of plastic products or materials.