A Giant Factory Rises to Make a Product Filling Up the World: Plastic

Royal Dutch Shell’s plant will produce more than a million tons of plastic, in the form of tiny pellets. Many in the Pittsburgh area see it as an economic engine, but others worry about long-term harm.

Nyt   By Michael Corkery-Aug. 12, 2019335


MONACA, Pa. — The 386-acre property looks like a giant Lego set rising from the banks of the Ohio River. It is one of the largest active construction projects in the United States, employing more than 5,000 people.

When completed, the facility will be fed by pipelines stretching hundreds of miles across Appalachia. It will have its own rail system with 3,300 freight cars. And it will produce more than a million tons each year of something that many people argue the world needs less of: plastic.

As concern grows about plastic debris in the oceans and recycling continues to falter in the United States, the production of new plastic is booming. The plant that Royal Dutch Shell is building about 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh will create tiny pellets that can be turned into items like phone cases, auto parts and food packaging, all of which will be around long after they have served their purpose.

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