Plastics & Petrochemicals
Petrochemicals are derived from oil and gas. These synthetic chemicals weren’t used widely until after the 1950s, but their impact today is enormous. They make up toiletries, electronics, building materials, and synthetic fertilizers that grow our food. The most ubiquitous use of petrochemicals, however, is to make plastic. Petrochemicals are often left out of the global discussion on energy, but they are a rapidly expanding part of the fossil fuel industry. Companies are taking advantage of cheap shale gas and investing heavily into petrochemicals, particularly plastics - the fastest-growing group of bulk materials in the world. This boom in the petrochemical industry is coming at a point of increasing global awareness of the disaster that is plastic pollution. As much as 12.7 million tons of plastic waste goes into the ocean each year. In response to this crisis, hundreds of cities and many countries are instituting policies to reduce plastic consumption. The photos in this album depict the buildout of infrastructure and activities of the process by which oil, gas, and petrochemical materials are processed and transformed into plastics. The photos were captured in various locations around the US.
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