A special report on the global plastics problem

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Deep Dive - Plastics

Column / Harder Line

Oil companies double down on plastics as public outcry grows

Illustration of plastic bag coming out of a gas pump
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The oil and gas industry is ramping up petrochemicals — building blocks of plastics —right as the global outcry intensifies over plastic waste.

The big picture: Most people associate oil companies' products mainly with gasoline. But they also generate plastics that are interwoven into all facets of our lives. This durable material is, more and more, leaving waste virtually everywhere on Earth.

Special report: Our plastic planet

Image of many assorted, small plastic objects like doll heads, planes, eating utensils, arranged into a montage.
Assembled plastic objects found on the UK coast, 1994-2019. Photo: Steve McPherson

We have sipped, packaged and played our way into a global plastics crisis.

Why it matters: Activist consumer groups are pushing for less use, and to some extent, less production, while industry aims for increased recycling.

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