US Plastic More Expensive To Make, Will Have Higher Carbon Footprint Under Cap & Trade

trash cleanup

Cleaning up waste plastic before it goes into the ocean. Image credits::Algalita Marine Research Foundation

In Europe they commonly make commodity plastics from oil-based feedstock: petroleum naptha from the refinery. In the USA, however, plastic is mostly is made from natural gas as raw material. The chemical industry is not pleased with the current cap and trade provision being voted on in Congress. They anticipate C&T; will drive utilities to burn more natural gas and less coal to generate power (a good thing by most people's reasoning), which means (per the chemical industry argument) higher operating costs, and ultimately customers getting plastic from European instead of US factories.

They also seem to be arguing that European plastic makers have a higher carbon footprint per Kg of plastic made (because of the oil feedstock and trans-atlantic shipping).

Utilities could also switch to renewable energy instead of all gas. And, Americans could recycle more plastic, thus avoiding all the waste plastic that ends up in the ocean (as pictured). That would lower prices. Bet these two sentences are not in their 'talking points.'From States News via ACC: SENATE EPW CLIMATE BILL WILL WEAKEN U.S. COMPETITIVENESS, INCREASE GLOBAL EMISSIONS:

"Specifically, we believe the allowance cap and reduction schedules in S. 1733 will put energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries (EITEs) like ours at a competitive disadvantage in global markets. While some allowances are devoted to EITEs, the bill has an undersized cap and steep rate of decline that will make emissions allowances scarce, resulting in high allowance prices. High allowance prices will, in turn, will lead utilities to 'fuel switch' to natural gas to reduce their compliance costs. Because chemistry companies rely on natural gas for heat and power and as a raw material, or 'feedstock,' we will pay more for allowances, fuel, and feedstock. This 'triple whammy' of higher costs will make us significantly less competitive with producers overseas, costing U.S. jobs and increasing global emissions.

More posts on plastic and gas prices.
Rising Oil Prices Make Plastic Recycling More Valuable
Good News: The Cost Of Petro-Plastic Is Sky Rocketing
Natural Gas Getting Boxed Out of Climate Bill