When you believed a random politician saying that climate change is a hoax, think again. Climate change is a real deal and is happening at this very instant. It’s a phenomenon caused by global warming after too much greenhouse effect was inflicted by global modernization. And guess what kind of human activity holds most of the share of greenhouse gases production? That’s right, it’s our excessive consumption of fossil fuel.
One of the most popular products made from utilizing fossil fuel is plastic. Every person on Earth literally has a ton of plastic garbage. Plastics are not biodegradable and are definitely not eco-friendly. Plastic pollution nowadays is seriously plaguing our ecosystems, posing a grave threat to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. Traditionally made from petroleum byproducts, today’s plastics in the U.S. are most commonly obtained from the nation’s production of “abundant and affordable” natural gas. Natural gas is a less-threatening form of fossil fuel compared to coal and oil.
Natural gas liquids (NGLs) like ethane and propane get extracted and are sent to a “cracking facility“. This is where ethane is made into ethylene, the foundation of polyethylene which is the most common plastic in the world (frequently used for packaging, bottles and synthetic clothing); and propane is made into propylene, the foundation of polypropylene (a plastic commonly found in food packaging and vehicle manufacturing).
“The reason is simple: because of shale gas, it is more cost-effective to produce ethylene in U.S. than just about anywhere else in the world.”
— Excerpt from American Chemistry Council
The boom of natural gas in the U.S. has made plastic feedstocks really cheap and readily available. An estimated amount of $50 billion will be invested to new and expanded U.S. plastic production facilities, increasing production by roughly 50 percent for the next 10 years, and tripling the number of plastic exports by 2030! That includes 400 new plastic processing facilities, in addition to plastic manufacturing facilities and plastic additive processing facilities, which can definitely produce a significantly harmful amount of chemicals including phthalates and brominated flame retardants.
To make things worse, producers of polyethylene in the U.S. alone are expecting to increase production capacity by as much as 75 percent by 2022. The industry explains that this increase of production is fueled by expected increases in demand for disposable plastics from growing consumer markets worldwide. This means that a lot of the U.S. manufactured plastics are to be exported to developing countries, where waste management services may not be properly equipped to handle a surge in non-biodegradable solid waste.
To further disappoint, the proposal for offshore oil drilling in the U.S. as well as the unstoppable expansion of plastic industry are absolutely ignoring the fact that the world is trying to move towards renewable energy sources, and totally failing to recognize the proliferation of social and political efforts such as plastic bans for bags and foams, including the campaign against single-use plastics.
In a much lighter tone, the movement to reduce single-use plastic pollution has gone global. For the local scene, cities across the U.S. have banned and restricted the unregulated use of single-use plastics through the campaigns by passionate community members like Surfrider chapters. Going international, the European Commission announced last January 2018 a Europe-wide strategy to reduce plastic pollution and ensure that all plastics in Europe are recyclable by 2030. Even the UN Environment Program has taken a strong stand against plastic pollution by starting a global campaign to reduce marine debris from microplastics and single-use plastics by 2022.
Although none of these actions can assure the complete end of single-use plastic utilization, they definitely made a huge impact for a great start. The support among cities, nations, and the international community for this advocacy is increasing rapidly by discouraging the consumption of single-use non-biodegradable products that are environmentally detrimental. Like climate change, plastic pollution is an issue that demands worldwide cooperation, for both are seriously life-threatening in a global level when left untreated.
As a product of extracting and refining fossil fuels for energy, the amount of plastic produced is influenced by the demand and production of oil and gas. Industry analyses reveal that the production of plastics from fossil fuel is only cost effective when the components not used for plastics are used for energy production, treating plastic more as a byproduct of the industry. Therefore, if we transition away from fossil fuels, and towards renewable energy, we also encourage the industry to transition away from producing wasteful single-use plastics.
“Plastics manufacturers assume demand for disposable plastics will continue to rise, despite evidence that global awareness of plastic pollution is growing and cultural attitudes are changing. Industry investments reflect a further underlying assumption that supplies of cheap hydrocarbons will remain the norm for decades to come, even as the global community has begun to phase out the very fossil fuels upon which plastics producers depend.”
— Excerpt from Center for International and Environmental Law
This makes the fight against plastic pollution and climate change more compelling and holistic, realizing there are still better choices out there like renewable energy sources or simply discouraging the use of plastic products.
We need your help to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics and fossil fuels!
- Support bans on harmful single-use products through local campaigns.
- Support ocean-friendly restaurants and local businesses that avoid plastic wastes while spreading environmental awareness.
- Reduce your reliance on greenhouse gas emissions by driving less, investing in high-efficiency lighting and appliances, and buying locally-made native products.
- Adopt a single-use plastic free lifestyle by investing in reusable cups and cutlery, purchasing loose products instead of packaged ones, and saying NO to plastic straws, bags, bottles, and takeaway containers.
- Take action and ask our federal leaders to protect our coasts from new offshore drillings.
“We hope you liked this article, please share it to help it reach more people. We at iBan Plastic believe that awareness and education is key to the success of a cleaner less polluted planet. If you would like to support us on our mission you can check out our new Patreon page, from there you can help us with monthly donations of just $1, and all Patrons will have their name written on our Sponsorship Page.”
iBan Plastic Team