Fuel for Thought

  • New Research Suggests Plastic Industry Guzzles More Oil Than Aviation Sector

New Research Suggests Plastic Industry Guzzles More Oil Than Aviation Sector

Feb 17 2016 Read 3212 Times

When you consider how much oil it would take to get hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of jumbo jet off the ground, it seems unlikely that any sector could rival the aviation industry’s fuel use. Turns out, the latest report from Davos reveals otherwise. Released at by the World Economics Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and consultancy firm McKinsey, the Davos report highlighted some alarming statistics about the environmental impacts of the rapidly growing plastics industry. This includes the fact that the plastics industry uses just as much oil as the aviation sector.

Plastics industry draining non-renewable resources

As well as being a serious environmental issue, plastic waste is a pressing resource problem. Currently, executive lead for editorial and policy at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Joss Blériot maintains that “At the moment the plastics industry takes up roughly 8% of oil production, and [given projected growth in consumption] it’s forecast to rise to 20% by 2050.”

“That means we end up with an explosion of the weight of plastic within the system and if it doesn’t get captured it’s a massive economic loss,” she warns.

An eco-disaster

From an environmental perspective, the world’s hunger for plastics comes with catastrophic consequences. Every minute, one truckload of plastic waste is dumped into the ocean. Every year, this equates to a huge 8 million tonnes of plastic being strewn into our seas. Today, the world’s oceans are burdened with more than 150 million tonnes of plastics, which will see the net weight of this waste outweigh that of fish by 2050.

The planet’s insatiable appetite for plastics

One of the major factors contributing to the huge amounts of oil used by the plastics industry is an increase in demand. Over the last 50 years plastic production has increased by 20x, spiralling from 15 million tonnes to a colossal 311 million tonnes. Growth is only set to continue, with analysts predicting that by 2050, production will hit 1,124 million tonnes. Furthermore, just 5% of plastic packaging is recycled. This means that rather than reuse what’s already been manufactured, the industry chews up more oil in a bid to meet demand.

Petrochemicals are a key part of the plastic manufacturing process. ‘Advance in PID Technology Give Resistance to Humidity Effects and Allow Continuous, Benzene-Specific Monitoring’ explores the sector in more detail, drawing on the expertise of Dr. Werner Haag, Senior Applications Chemist at Ion Science. He discusses the recent advances in Photo-Ionisation Detector (PID) technology, and how the new intel is transforming the petrochemical industry.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons. Photo credits: Geof Wilson

Reader comments

Do you like or dislike what you have read? Why not post a comment to tell others / the manufacturer and our Editor what you think. To leave comments please complete the form below. Providing the content is approved, your comment will be on screen in less than 24 hours. Leaving comments on product information and articles can assist with future editorial and article content. Post questions, thoughts or simply whether you like the content.

Post a Comment

Digital Edition

Petro Industry News July 2020

July 2020

In This Edition Safety - BM 25 & BM 25 Wireless: 10 years of improved safety - Discover the enhanced PS200 Fuel For Thought - FCI announces Adam Schleyhahn as Director of Sales - New...

View all digital editions


National Safety Show

Aug 12 2020 Auckland, New Zealand

IE Expo China 2020 - NEW DATES

Aug 13 2020 Shanghai, China


Aug 13 2020 Nairobi, Kenya


Aug 17 2020 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

OGU Conference 2020 - NEW DATES

Aug 18 2020 Tashkent, Uzbekistan

View all events