11 March 2021
14 March at 14:00, people in the Netherlands will raise their voices about the
climate. Never before has such a wide coalition of citizens and organisations
called on the next Cabinet to take more action on climate change. The new
Government must make sure that polluting companies comply with the Paris
Demonstrations will be held in more than 30 places in the country and people can also have their voices heard from their homes. See klimaatmars2021 to learn what it is all about and how to join in.
Soup Foundation is also joining. Why? What is the relationship between plastic
and climate change?
One important link between the two is the clothing industry. Plastic fibres are made of fossil fuels and, without our even knowing it, we are all addicted to synthetic clothing. The recently published Fossil Fashion: The Hidden Reliance of Fashion on Fossil Fuels report, on which Plastic Soup Foundation worked, estimates that by 2030, almost three quarters of all fibres produced worldwide will be synthetic, primarily polyester, fibres.
fashion industry plays a large role in climate change. It produces several new
collections a year and its clothes are only worn a few times and are then
discarded. This is not only creating a huge mountain of waste, but every time
the clothes are washed, they release millions of plastic fibres. Once
discarded, an item of clothing cannot be recycled and turned into a new item of
clothing of the same quality.
synthetic clothing, 99% of the plastic in the world is made of fossil fuels.
The remaining 1% is bio-based.
Did you know that it takes a Quarter of a Litre of oil to produce just one, one litre plastic bottle?
production industry consumes an incredible amount of fossil fuels. Estimates
put figures of 8% to 10% of the world’s total oil production go into making
plastics. Not included in these figures are the associated energy that is
needed for transporting filled bottles from factories to supermarkets, keeping
drinks chilled in shops and offices and so on. About 40% of all plastic is
disposable plastic that is used just once. Reducing the plastic stream would be
a huge gain for the climate.
also produced from a by-product of shale gas. The continuous extraction of
shale gas in countries like the United States and Argentina undermine all
attempts to fight climate change. And ‘Big Oil’, the conglomerate of oil
multinationals, including Shell, continues to invest hugely in shale gas and in
A direct consequence
is that the market is flooded with cheap unnecessary plastic, while we should all
be reducing the amount of plastic because of the plastic soup. Shell, very
shrewdly, omits greenhouse gases generated by plastic from its CO2 accounting
system on the grounds that it ‘is not an energy product’.
INDUSTRY BLOCKS CLIMATE GOALS
We have not even looked at the emissions associated with the production and incineration of plastic. The part plastic plays in the emission of greenhouse gases and climate change is a relatively little known problem. The Plastic & Climate. The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet report gives calculations of greenhouse gases for all phases of the plastic chain, from raw material extraction and processing through to waste processing.
amount of CO2 that may be emitted worldwide to reach the climate goals is
determined in the carbon budget. The report states that up to 2050, the
plastics industry is accountable for at least 10% to 13% of this limited budget.
concludes that the plastics industry is a serious threat to reaching the
Cabinet will have to put a lot more effort into reaching the climate
agreements. It can do this by:
- ensuring that the textile and clothing industry is subject to the Paris Climate Agreement and the European Green Deal goals;
- addressing Big Oil and plastic producers on their share in climate change and pollution;
- recognising the rapid increase in shale gas production and the growing plastic soup as forms of ecocide, and recognising ecocide as an international crime;
- encouraging banks and insurers to discourage shale gas prospection and extraction, and discourage or cease financing the production of plastics in general and single-use plastics in particular.
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