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Royal Dutch Shell’s New Plastic Plant Stirs Debate

Royal Dutch Shell’s New Plastic Plant Stirs Debate

AUGUST 13, 2019

Royal Dutch Shell has announced plans to open a huge new plastic plant in Pittsburgh’s Beaver County. Not everyone is pleased with this development. Plastic Passion As reported by The New York Times, oil company Royal Dutch Shell is building a $6 billion plastic factory near Pittsburgh that will create 3.5 billion “tiny pellets that can be turned into items like phone cases, auto parts and food packaging.” While the factory would be a boost for the local economy, environmental activists argue that there is already far too much plastic in the world as it is, as many towns in America struggle with recycling. Re: Recycling Shell argues that the problem is not plastic, but plastic that is not properly disposed of. It donated to extend the hours of a local recycling center near the plant, but like in much of the country, Pennsylvania’s Beaver County has to limit the type of plastic it can accept, because there aren’t many buyers who want to repurpose it. Gas It Up This investment in plastic is seen as a move by both Shell and Pennsylvania to diversify, as the prices have fallen for the natural gas the area was known for, and the energy industry is looking for ways to get ahead of the demand for clean energy, low fuel prices and the increasing popularity of fuel-efficient automobiles. Petrochemical giants like Exxon Mobil and Dow have also made similar moves in recent years. Still, investors and analysts continue to see plastic as a risky investment, as shareholders are increasingly voicing concerns about plastic waste. -Michael Tedder Photo: Arnd Wiegmann / REUTERS

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