Mar 24, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Coronavirus forces pause in some local single-use plastic limits

Photo: Epics/Getty Images)

States, local governments and restaurants are starting to pause plans to curb single-use plastics as they try and control the coronavirus outbreak, per Argus Media and the Wall Street Journal.

Driving the news: "The delays are in response to concerns that reusable bags and containers carry more risk of spreading the virus than single-use items, which are designed to be used once and thrown away," Argus reports.

Why it matters: It's yet another variable in the complicated question of how coronavirus will affect energy use policies and patterns in the near- and long-term.

The big picture: Petrochemicals used to make plastic are a big source of oil demand. The scope of future restrictions on plastics are one factor that will determine when global oil use eventually peaks.

Where it stands: States and local officials in Maine, New York, Massachusetts and elsewhere are taking steps to enable continued plastic bag use.

Where it stands: Major restaurants have also been forced to rethink their plans.

  • "Starbucks Corp. has said stores that remain open in North America would serve coffee only in disposable cups for takeout," WSJ reports.
  • "Starbucks, Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. and Tim Hortons — owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc. — have all stopped filling customers’ reusable cups, a U-turn after years of encouraging them."

Go deeper: Our Plastic Planet

Go deeper

10 ways coronavirus is changing energy and climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The novel coronavirus, upending our world as we know it, is also changing how we consume energy and address climate change.

Driving the news: The various impacts are occurring both now and into the future. Most changes don’t bode well for acting on climate change and transitioning to cleaner energy.

Oil plunges and industry pain spreads

Photo: Carsten Rehder/picture alliance via Getty Images

This morning is bringing fresh and stark signs of how economic contraction from COVID-19 is crushing the oil market and forcing companies to cut back.

The big picture: The price collapse stems from COVID-19 freezing a significant amount of travel and economic activity, and the collapse of the Saudi-Russia agreement to limit production.

OPEC-Russia oil price war escalates as Saudi Aramco announces supply increase

Data:; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The new oil price war escalated Tuesday as Saudi state oil giant Aramco announced, per reports in Reuters and elsewhere, that it plans to supply the market with 12.3 million barrels per day starting next month.

Why it matters: The increase underscores how the lunge for market share with the collapse of the OPEC+ agreement is going to create financial pain and problems for producers and governments worldwide.