Fuelling the plastic crisis

A huge issue concerning fracked gas is its contribution to the production of new plastics, exacerbating the global plastic binge which is already causing widespread damage to oceans, habitats and the human food chain.

Apparently, the amount of plastic produced in a year is roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity. The big problem is single use plastics: we are using an indestructible material for a momentary purpose.

Moves are being made to reduce single use plastic waste but the production of plastics is likely to increase by 40% in the next ten years due to multimillion dollar investment by fossil fuel companies in a new generation of plastic plants in the US.

Around 99% of the feedstock for plastics is fossil fuels. Products of the fracking process are used to create plastics (namely ethane, butane and propane). The fracked gas boom in the US is driving the huge investment in plastic productions, because the cost of the raw material base has gone done roughly two thirds due to fracking technology improvements.

So, there is a deep and pervasive relationship between fracked gas and plastics. “I can summarise [the boom in plastics facilities] in two words,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at the ACC. “Shale gas.”