Tell Shell Oil: Stop Your Plans To Mass-Produce Dangerous Microplastics
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Sponsor: Free The Ocean
Shell is building a huge new riverside plant to make 1.8 million tons of plastic nurdles every year.
As the use of gasoline declines, oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell has found a product to take its place: plastic. Returning to the polyethylene market, they're building a 386-acre plant on the site of a long-shuttered zinc smelter on the Ohio River - where they plan to pump out 1.8 million tons of plastic each year.
Shell plans on manufacturing the plastic in the form of nurdles: tiny virgin plastic pellets that will be used to create new platic products. Nurdles are a tremendous yet often overlooked pollution disaster, and the plant intends to produce about 80 trillion of them a year.
The plastic products these nurdles are used to create, like the vast majority of all plastic made up to now, will likely not be recycled. They will exist virtually forever in our ecosystems, crumbling into microplastics and adding to our already polluted oceans, coastlines, and landfills.
The nurdles themselves are also considered microplastics, and they cause other serious environmental damage. Spills at the factory, during transportation, or at the destination facility are common, contaminating our waterways, rivers, and oceans. Loose nurdles bear a remarkable resemblance to fish eggs, which fish, seabirds, and other marine animals mistake them for. When eaten, they can clog up digestive systems and cause starvation; or if the animal survives, the undigestable plastic nurdles become an indelible part of our food chain.
Let's make our voices heard. For the sake of our planet, tell Shell CEO Ben van Beurden to reconsider this plan to massively increase plastic production. Our oceans, and all the lives they support, are worth protecting.
- A Giant Factory Rises to Make a Product Filling Up the World: Plastic, New York Times, August 12, 2019
- Virgin plastic pellets are the biggest pollution disaster you've never heard of, Quartz, August 19, 2019
- Why the fuss about nurdles?, Phys.org, April 11, 2018
- Little Plastic 'Nurdles' Are Flooding Beaches and Waterways, Wired, July 10, 2019
Dear Mr. Beurden,
By planning to create about 1.8 million tons of plastic each year at Shell's new plant, your company will be massively contributing to the plastic crisis. Creating this much virgin plastic a year is reckless and unnecessary when we know the severe consequences this product has on the environment, animals, and people.
It's even more worrisome that the plastic will be produced in the form of nurdles (about 80 trillion of them a year), as nurdles are not only used to create new plastic products, but they're toxic and create serious issues by easily getting into our waterways, rivers, and oceans.
I'm asking you to NOT ramp up plastic production at Royal Dutch Shell to create millions of tons of new plastic - which would substantially contribute to global plastic pollution. We need to move away from manufacturing mass amounts of virgin plastic (much of which is single-use) and focus on creating alternatives that don't devastate the environment. If you double-down on plastic production, it may be good for your shareholders but it would be horribly bad for people, pets and our planet.