Girl Planting seeds

Virgin plastic pellets are the biggest pollution disaster you’ve never heard of

Some 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a township adjacent to a state forest, oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell is building a sprawling new plant to support what it sees as the future of its business: making millions of tons of new, virgin plastic.  The Shell plant will rely on a process known as “ethane cracking,” where ethane gas, once seen as an unusable byproduct of gas extraction, can be molecularly “cracked”—its carbon and hydrogen atoms rearranged—to form ethylene, the main building block of plastic.  When completed, the new facility will pump out 1.8 million tons (1.6 million metric tons) of plastic each year. In a world where buying virgin plastic is often cheaper than using the recycled stuff, the new product will likely find an eager manufacturing market. The vast majority of that plastic, like the vast majority of all plastic made up to now, will likely not be recycled. And it will exist virtually forever, crumbling into microplastics that show up most everywhere scientists look for them.  Read more....

 

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