Plastic production to double in 20 years...Here's why

Plastic production to double in 20 years. Why?

It's like this. Imagine you’re the CEO of a large company.  And as a CEO you watch the natural rise and fall of your ‘portfolio’ of products.  It’s why Cheesies were hugely popular in the 90s and have since been replaced by gluten free, soy free, dairy free, plant based, crispy veggie bites.  

Now let’s talk about gasoline because, like Cheesies, it too has risen and - one day - will fall.  

When this ‘product’ first emerged, it was a hero.  It literally changed the world. Can you imagine life without cars (ROADTRIP!) and airplane trips to sunny destinations?  

But as with all things, there is a dark side.  And in recent decades we’ve learned Climate Change is real and our former hero - gasoline - is now our greatest villain.  

So if you were the CEO of an oil company and you saw your top performing product decline, what would you do?  You’d look for another product to take its place.

And what is that product?

You guessed it.  PLASTIC.  

Shell and other major producers are predicting that gas is on the decline, but plastic is not - yet.  And so what are they doing? Investing heavily in plastic production by building facilities all over the world, with some potentially devastating results.

“In the context of a world trying to shift off of fossil fuels as an energy source, this is where [oil and gas companies] see the growth,” said Steven Feit, a staff attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law, an advocacy group.  “You can think of plastic as a kind of subsidy for fracking. 

Global emissions linked to plastic — now just under 900 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually — could by 2030 reach 1.3 billion tons, as much as almost 300 coal-fired power plants, the Center for International Environmental Law found. If output grows as planned, plastic would use up between 10 and 13 percent of the carbon emissions allowable if warming is to stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the center reported.

“There is a whack-a-mole issue. Unless production slows, they’ll just find something else to wrap in plastic.”  [Wired Magzine]

Imagine you were the CEO of Shell, would you have what it takes to make a real change? 

What would you do differently to save your company and help our planet? Please tell us in the comments below.


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  • Is there one oil company that is ethical at all and interested in the welfare of the world and it’s environment?

    CIndy Yokem on
  • Plastic is a huge problem. “Recycling” won’t get rid of it. It’s now a constant polluter of our earth.
    “Recycling” plastic for other uses doesn’t get rid of it. Synthetic (plastic) clothing & other items doesn’t get rid of it.
    Synthetic plastic products must be entirely removed from our entire planet.
    It is all a toxic to all life.
    STOP using it, stop buying it.
    That encompasses everything!!

    Elizabeth on
  • Stop supporting the fossil fuel industry and the military industrial complex.

    Barbara Coy on
  • Cont. $$ back at the pump: Money back at the pump in the form of ‘shell solar dollars’. Collect enough & get credit towards a solar panel & install for your home. (A good quality panel — a partner of shell)

    AManda Ploski on
  • Refocus on plastics reclamation and repurposing. Use what we’ve already got
    It’s a field that’s asking for the backing & investment of a big company— they could be the hero’s on this — I’m thinking that the vast majority of our ‘regular people’ would buy-in

    Hire biochemists & medical product engineers (So much of our much needed/used single use plastics are in health care). To develop alternative production pathways & options.
    hire baseline workers out of the oil fields & coal mines and retrain them on alternative energy production lines
    Partner with end-user gas patrons — to guarantee that a percentage of the fuel they purchase goes directly to the above and give them a cash break for actually using less fuel per month — & offer incentives to invest those monies in alternative renewable, reusable energy sources — like solar power
    (Provides by said ‘big guys’).
    Yup — it’s an investment for the ‘big guys’. But I’m convinced they’d win in the end having a good hold on the alternative energy market.

    Amanda Ploski on
  • I am trying to use less prepackaged materials. I am trying not to purchase items made of plastic. Thank you for giving me options.

    Barbara Hughes on
  • Until CO2 emissions start falling instead of RISING how about… baton down the hatches, forget about maximizing profit for awhile, join (or support) Extinction Rebellion and take to the streets! Unfortunately, if we are to have a fighting chance of warming staying below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we need immediate collective action and drastic systemic change, in addition to doing our part through our individual choices. (That said, thanks for your amazing products; terribly disheartening to hear that avoiding plastic could soon get harder rather than easier. Ugh.)

    Monika Napier on
  • In this economy, it might take paying someone more to keep oil in the ground.

    Layla on
  • In this creative world…I,m certain there are products out already…and in the planning stages that could be used instead…SHOULD be used….to replace plastic….immediately.
    The will by big companies, by citizens….should be organized to curb plastics ASAP!

    CEcilia BRown on
  • One word: bioplastic.

    Genevieve Laurin on

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