18 Jul 2018
Backlash against plastic pollution could bring peak oil demand forward several years
The emerging global backlash against plastic pollution will have major implications for both the petrochemical and oil industries, which would have important implications for investors, says Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) at its latest Horizons briefing.
Demand for plastic has grown twenty fold in the past half-century, and some expect it to double again in the next 20 years. Lightweight, cheap and durable, plastic in many ways has been the perfect product and the cost benefits of plastics compared with other alternatives are significant. However, the durability and chemical make-up of plastics is having a major impact on the environment, and is killing untold numbers of sea creatures, fish and birds.
The cost of clean-up
The cost of tackling that amount of plastic will be enormous. Recent estimates put the cost of cleaning up plastic pollution in the oceans at a minimum of $13 billion.
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Investors need to recognise the risk that long term oil demand growth cannot be relied upon as plastic and therefore oil consumption is dramatically reduced... This research has increased our conviction that peak demand is coming sooner than many believe... we believe that investors, and oil companies, need to start taking those risks more seriously.
Nick Stansbury, Global Equity Fund Manager at Legal & General Investment Management