IEA published the report 'The Future of Petrochemicals' last week in which it analyses the industry. According to IEA, the industry will grow significantly over the next years, with plastics being its main constituent. This could double the amount of plastics in the sea by 2030.
Namely, the petrochemicals industry will be responsible for about 50% of the growth in world oil demand between 2018 and 2050, with plastics being the main factor constituent of this demand growth.
This development however could have serious environmental consequences. According to the report, about 80% of the ocean plastic comes from land-based sources. With demand for plastics in developing nations increasing, the amount of ocean plastics could double by 2030 and then continue to do so. Specifically, by 2050, plastic in the ocean would be over 500 million tonnes, five times the present amount.
Demand for plastics has also outpaced all other bulk materials, nearly doubling since 2000. Advanced economies currently use up to 20 times more plastic and up to 10 times more fertiliser than developing economies on a per capita basis, underscoring the huge potential for global growth.
Thus, IEA warned that:
"Without ambitious action being taken globally, particularly in regions in which plastic demand is growing rapidly, current trends of plastic leakage are unlikely even to slow, let alone reverse."
What is more, petrochemicals' CO2 emissions are predicted to increase from 1.5 gigatons per year in 2017 to about 1.9 gigatons per year in 2050. This is equal to about 50% of shipping's annual CO2 emissions.
As for major plastics demand, the top 5 regions in such demand are:
- Saudi Arabia;
- Western Europe.