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About 98% of the energy used today to produce plastics is derived from petroleum and natural gas. Although bio-based and renewable feedstocks have the potential for making a positive contribution, the use of these alternatives, as with any feedstock, needs to be founded on a science-based approach, including a life cycle assessment. In the case of bio-based feedstocks, such an assessment needs to include the effects on fresh water supplies and the availability of arable land.
Allowing for aggressive estimates of their growth (about 15% annually) by 2030,bio-based feedstocks would still represent less than 5% of feedstocks for petrochemical production. That number is based on annual research conducted by ExxonMobil and includes data from trade associations, publications, public announcements and internal estimates.
Therefore, hydrocarbons will remain the primary feedstock for years to come. And even though these are finite resources, there’s good news about their efficient use and availability.