Background: Plastics have conveyed great benefits to humanity and made possible some of the most significant advances of modern civilization in fields as diverse as medicine, electronics, aerospace, construction, food packaging, and sports. It is now clear, however, that plastics are also responsible for significant harms to human health, the economy, and the earth’s environment. These harms occur at every stage of the plastic life cycle, from extraction of the coal, oil, and gas that are its main feedstocks through to ultimate disposal into the environment. The extent of these harms not been systematically assessed, their magnitude not fully quantified, and their economic costs not comprehensively counted.

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