Plastics and hydrogen: An abatement business case?

Time and again, the potential for hydrogen to decarbonise heavily carbon-intensive sectors is highlighted. The case for decarbonising steel, concrete and refining – all sectors instrumental to our everyday lives – has been well presented, however one sector, plastics, has seemingly remained untapped by hydrogen.

Discussions surrounding plastics in the context of climate change is often focused on waste entering the natural environment, and with good reason. According to the OECD, just 9% of plastic waste is recycled, while 22% is “mismanaged1.”

Plastics entail two streams of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Firstly, the less discussed production process, which on average produces 2.5 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of plastics, while the decomposition of plastics at end-of-life produces around 2.7 tonnes of CO2 per tonne2.

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