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- Thomas E. Salmon
Reducing the use of hydrocarbon feedstocks is arguably one of the most environmentally impactful goals for the chemical industry; second only to eliminating waste plastics from the global ecosystem. Recycling technology exists today that enables the industry to move beyond using waste plastics for simple energy recovery. These technologies, in combination with biomaterials, offer the potential to decouple certain plastics applications from hydrocarbon feedstocks. While conversations regarding limits on plastics production among policy makers and the industry are in early stages, one can begin to contemplate a “peak-production scenario” for certain plastics in the future. Sustainability and circularity pressures are increasing, and the chemicals and plastics industries are developing new business models in response. What does this mean for the future of consumer good made from plastics? How will producers in the plastics goods supply-chain respond to these emerging challenges? Are the economics of emerging business models viable in a “free market” system?