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  It’s why Cheesies were hugely popular in the 90s and have since been replaced by gluten free, soy free, dairy free, plant based, crispy veggie bites.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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  • Begin immediate research into organic , abundant and resilient materials that can rapidly replace the versatility of plastics. We have existing research and engineers already creating alternatives. Options already exist!

    Anna Campbell on

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