The Plastic Fantasy That’s Propping Up the Oil Market

11 Sep 2017   Energy Demand, Kenya

Kenya’s mountains of plastic bags might not seem central to oil’s grand narrative, but they are. Last week, the East African country banned almost everything about them: making them, importing them, selling them, using them, with penalties of up to four years in jail or fines up to $38,000. This type of prohibition carries a warning for an oil business that’s depending on petrochemicals — and the plastics made from them — to pick up the slack when we all switch from gas guzzlers to electric cars. Saudi Aramco is betting its future on petrochemicals. The International Energy Agency thinks they’ll drive crude sales for decades, accounting for 44 percent of oil demand growth between 2015 and 2040. But, as Kenya shows, the days of single-use plastic packaging may already be numbered. And with this stuff making up about a quarter of all the plastic used, that will have […]

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