The future of petrochemicals: towards more sustainable plastics and fertilisers

Found across a vast range of modern products, petrochemicals are part of the fabric of our societies. Clothing, tyres, digital devices, packaging, detergents and countless other everyday items are made from petrochemicals. Petrochemical feedstock accounts for 12% of global oil demand, a share that is expected to increase driven by increasing demand for plastics, fertilisers and other products. Despite its size, the sector continues to take a back seat in the global energy debate. As part of the IEA on-going examination of energy “blind spots” – major areas of energy demand which fail to attract the level of attention from policy makers that they deserve – The Future of Petrochemicals explores the role of the sector in today’s global energy system and how its significance for global energy security and the environment is set to increase. It also draws a path to an alternative scenario consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, exploring enabling technologies and strategies, and assessing their impact on energy demand.

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