The Plastic Production Fact Sheet explains how plastic pollution is rapidly increasing due to an overabundance of cheap natural gas. Plastics are typically made from petroleum or natural gas, the latter of which has increased in abundance due to the natural gas fracking boom over the past decade. Ethane, a component of natural gas, is converted in industrial facilities called ethane crackers into a petrochemical called ethylene, which is one of the building blocks of plastics. Fracking — a process used to extract natural gas from shale rock — has produced an oversupply of cheap ethane in the past few years, giving the plastics industry an inexpensive and plentiful raw material for producing plastic.
The plastics crisis continues to grow, with increasing amounts of plastic waste entering our oceans and limited recycling capacity to keep pace with it. To stop plastic from entering our oceans, we must reduce the amount of plastic being produced at the source. We must demand that companies reduce the amount of single-use plastic they are putting into the supply chain and find alternative ways to package and deliver their products.