New report reveals the urgency to cut plastic production to reduce the European Union's dependence on fossil fuels and Russian oil and gas
Crédit : BFFP
As the EU faces a looming gas shortage, EU countries are looking to consumers to shoulder the brunt of reductions and are pursuing deals to secure new fossil fuel supplies. At the same time, policymakers are leaving the plastics and petrochemicals sector — the single largest driver of the increase in global oil and gas demand — untouched. A new report from Break Free From Plastic and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) explores the European market for plastics and petrochemicals, arguing that the EU, which sources nearly 40% of its gas and over 20% of its oil from Russia, can advance energy security by making cuts to these energy-intensive industries.
“Plastics and petrochemicals are the largest industrial oil, gas, and electricity users in the EU, with nearly 40% of that energy going towards producing plastic packaging alone. Not including this sector in the “Save Gas for a Safer Winter” plan is a serious oversight. While families and small businesses are facing skyrocketing energy bills, the petrochemicals industry is wasting scarce resources to produce unnecessary single-use plastic, fueling the EU energy crisis,” said Delphine Lévi Alvarès, European Coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement.
The report’s main findings include:
As the plastics industry plans to double its gas and oil-based production over the next 20 years, the report finds that this growth is incompatible with achieving the EU’s goals, including those laid out in the Green Deal, binding climate targets to keep global warming under 1.5°C, and efforts to tackle plastic pollution.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine lays bare the danger of our global dependence on fossil fuels. Expecting individual consumer action is an inadequate and disproportionate response to the scale and intensity of the crisis at hand,“ said Lili Fuhr, Deputy Director of CIEL’s Climate & Energy Program. “EU leaders must stop their neocolonialist hunt for new sources of fossil fuels and instead confront the problem head-on by immediately reducing the production of plastic, starting with unnecessary single-use plastic packaging to save gas.”
The report details concrete policy recommendations for the EU to reduce fossil fuel use for petrochemical and plastic production through ambitious prevention and reuse policies. These include regional action and efforts to step up ambition on upstream measures during upcoming negotiations on a legally-binding global plastic treaty.
“With a 50% reduction of plastic packaging and a 90% rate of recycling, we could save the equivalent of the Czech Republic’s annual oil and gas consumption. This is a huge opportunity for the EU to address the energy, climate and plastic pollution crises at once.'' said Lévi Alvarès. “It’s time for the EU to demonstrate real leadership. For a safer winter, plastic has to go.”