Refusal of Disposable Plastics will Cause a Decrease in Demand for Petrochemicals

15 august 2019 | RBC-TV

The relationship between the refusal of plastic products and the performance of Russian petrochemical companies was discussed today in the RBC studio.

Alexander Kurdin
Alexander Kurdin
Department for Fuel and Energy Sector

The discussion was prompted by the energy bulletin prepared by the experts of the Analytical Center (No. 74, July 2019, Campaign Against Plastics Entails Risks for the Oil Industry). It was focused on the unfolding global struggle against plastic waste. Waste accumulation has long been a concern for environmentalists, while reduced use of plastic packaging are welcome. However, the bulletin authors also emphasize another effect of the changing plastic policy: the trend of a gradual restrain of future demand for oil and gas.

“The figures given are the hardest scenario, which is unlikely to be realized,” said Alexander Kurdin, head of research at the Department of Fuel and Energy Complex and Housing and Utilities of the Analytical Center, on the air of RBC TV channel. The expert emphasized that such serious threats could hardly be realized. “Most likely, we will not see such dramatic decrease,” he explained. “However, it is necessary to identify possible thresholds, because we have faced situations where regulatory changes in both Western countries and developing economies have had an unpredictable, unexpected effect on the Russian fuel and energy complex.”

According to the expert, a binding international agreement on reducing the use of plastic could be possibly reached. At the same time, recent practice has shown that it is difficult to reach consensus. “Despite the statements made by the national leaders and specialized ministers within the G20 framework, as well as the positions of some major players (in particular, the USA), it is too early to talk about obligations that could be imposed on the largest economies,” said Mr. Kurdin. "At the same time, there are some private initiatives, including those developed by companies, which will gradually ensure the transition from using disposable plastics to more active recycling, which in turn will cause a decrease in demand for petrochemical products, and through this, a decrease in demand for oil.”

The expert called the reduction of 1–2 million barrels per day “quite a serious amount”, but at the same time noted that this would not be critical for the Russian oil industry, however, for the petrochemical industry, it could become “a certain threat”.

For more information about the Analytical Center study, see our article "Global Fight Against Plastic Waste is not Expected Yet."

Source: RBC TV