Hey team, and welcome to our post-COP28 edition of one5c. The conference’s conclusion came with a drafted climate deal that centers on “transitioning away from fossil fuels.” It’s the first time the words “fossil fuels” have appeared in COP’s official text. Alas, the nonbinding agreement is missing teeth. The ideas of “phasing out” or even “phasing down” fossil fuels didn’t make the final word count. Plus, another Brontosaurus-sized loophole caught our attention: The deal only applies to fossil fuels in energy systems.
Pretty much all the Big Oil superstars have a second act, and that’s revving up our addiction to plastics. Byproducts of refining fossil fuels can be turned into anything from single-use bags and the microfibers in your favorite sweater to aircraft parts. By 2050, half of global oil demand will be from plastic production.
We’ve been working on just the thing to prepare y’all for the second coming of fossil fuels. Over the last several months, we’ve been drilling deep into plastic. Meet the first one5c Cheat Sheet: plastics edition.
What follows is an excerpt from this collection of 20-plus stories that span the range of the subject, from how plastic is made to the state of recycling to the new technologies being developed to break it down. We wanted to answer any question a regular person would have about plastic, why it matters to people who care about the planet, and what you can do about it.
You’re gonna want to bookmark it, but also share it with someone you know who loves the Earth and hates single-use water bottles. —Sara Kiley Watson