The production of plastic uses an incredible amount of fossil fuels. Most estimates put the figure at around 8% of the world’s oil production, 4% of which is actually used in energy consumption to make the plastic. To give you some idea, it takes about 1/4 of a litre of oil to produce a 1 litre water bottle. The problem is that there are only finite resources left. The oil and gas industry are aware that there is very little chance of finding any significant quantity of new cheap oil.
Oil will inevitably become a precious resource and it seems absurd that we simply throw much of it away. Even the plastics industry view plastic as ‘too valuable to throw away’ (Plastics Europe)
The concerns of energy consumption within the industry have prompted growth in the research and development of bioplastics. Bioplastics already account for 10 – 15% of the global market however they are not the solution. They rely on potential food source crops for their production in the majority of cases, and they have become synonymous with degradable and biodegradable products – something that is not always the case. Many products can take decades to degrade and they can release methane gases, significantly more of an issue than Carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
In order to preserve precious fossil fuel energy reserves that our lives rely so heavily upon, we need to reduce our usage significantly and look at reuse, redesign and recycling of products as much as possible