Opinion | The Climate Threat Posed by Plastics

To the Editor:

“Do We Really Need So Much Plastic?,” by Pamela L. Geller and Christopher Parmeter (Op-Ed, April 6), performs an excellent service in pointing out the grave damage done to our oceans, fisheries and human health by the disposal and degradation from the enormous and unnecessary use of plastics for packaging by Amazon and others.

An extensive study of the plastics’ effect on climate change by the Center for International Environmental Law concludes that by 2030 “greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic life cycle … could reach 1.34 gigatons per year — equivalent to the emissions released by more than 295 new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants.”

Thus, phasing out the manufacture and use of plastics needs to be a top priority to mitigate climate change, even more urgent than the ills addressed in the article.

Richard L. Ottinger
Mamaroneck, N.Y.
The writer is dean emeritus at Pace Law School and a former Democratic congressman from Westchester County.

To the Editor:

Clearly, Amazon is not the only culprit in this sorry mess. But it is the largest and the one whose positive actions would have the greatest impact. So here’s what might be a major first step.

What if Amazon, which says it has phased out single-use plastic packaging at its more than 50 distribution centers in India, began rolling out what it is doing there to its distribution centers in the rest of the world? And then, because Amazon is not in the altruism business, license its processes to other companies? A one-two punch that benefits everyone.

Theodore Block
Delray Beach, Fla.

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