Shell supports the need for improved circularity of global plastics markets - encouraging reduce, reuse and recycle where possible to mitigate the release of plastic into the environment.

Principles of reduce, reuse, recycle in plastic management

Plastic products have many benefits - they help to improve living standards, are present in almost every part of modern healthcare, and are used in many of the products we rely on every day. They also play a key role in the energy transition by helping to lower carbon emissions - from components of solar panels and wind turbines, to building insulation and lightweight materials for vehicles.

Plastics are often associated with disposable items, but they are also used to make many products like pipes or window frames that have long-term uses, use fewer resources and have a lower-carbon footprint than the glass, paper and metal they have replaced.

What is Shell doing to reduce plastic waste?

Circular economy and managing waste is one of four priority topics in our Respecting Nature Goals, which we published in 2021 and includes our ambition to recycle one million tonnes of plastic waste in our chemicals facilites by 2025.

Shell is:

  • Investing and innovating in technology that uses plastic waste to create new products and fosters a circular economy

  • Collaborating with industry partners, customers and others to support solutions that tackle and stop plastic waste leakage

  • Finding ways to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic waste in areas of our supplying chain

Innovation in using plastic waste

To deliver on our ambition to recycle one million tonnes of plastic waste in our chemicals facilities by 2025 we are exploring technologies that use plastic waste to make useable products; while implementing new processes and tools to reduce and reuse plastic in our supply chain.

Using plastic waste as a chemical feedstock

Shell is responding to our customers’ demands for more chemical products with less virgin-hydrocarbons. We are developing and investing, with industry partners, in chemical recycling. Using a special heating process called pyrolysis, it transforms hard-to-recycle plastic waste, which would otherwise be incinerated or go to landfill, into a liquid feedstock, known as pyrolysis oil. Pyrolysis oil can be used to produce chemicals, plastics and other products supporting a circular economy. We believe chemical recycling has potential as a valuable and viable solution in tackling plastic waste, but to grow this industry will require collaboration with governments, waste management companies and customers.

Giving new life to plastic waste

Shell is investing and collaborating across the plastic waste value chain to help drive the growth of this promising industry. We are working with companies in Europe, the U.S. and Asia to grow production of pyrolysis oil. Here are some of the partners we are working with:

Our Partners

Upgrader technology

Processing a broad range of plastic waste products (e.g. furniture, contaminated packaging and household items) using pyrolysis technology can produce a low-quality pyrolysis oil, which can limit usable volumes. Shell is tackling this industrywide problem with its proprietary upgrader technology, which takes low-quality pyrolysis oil and removes impurities. Shell will build two pyrolysis upgrading units each with a capacity to process 50,000 tonnes of pyrolysis oil. The first will be located at our Energy and Chemicals Park Singapore, expected to begin operations in 2023, and the second at our Chemicals Park Moerdijk in the Netherlands, expected to be operational in 2024.

Collaborating to tackle plastic waste

We are a leading member of the new Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which is committed to help end plastic waste in the environment. It is an alliance of global companies including chemicals and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies and waste management companies, along with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

In 2021, the Alliance was responsible for more than 35 projects across 80 cities across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, which is supported by a commitment of $1.5 billion over five years from members.

Alliance to end plastic waste logo

The Alliance’s investments and project are founded on four strategic pillars:

  • Infrastructure:

    Catalyse investment in enhanced waste infrastructure to prevent plastic from reaching the environment.

  • Innovation:

    Innovate new sustainable materials, designs, technologies and business models based on sound science and economics.

  • Education:

    Engage and collaborate with governments, industry and consumers to drive effective solutions.

  • Clean-up:

    Develop solutions to address and clean up areas of existing plastic waste in the environment.

What is Shell doing to reduce and reuse plastic?

Shell continues to explore ways to reduce, reuse and recycle packaging across our supply chains and introduce sustainable packaging solutions.

Take a look at our global projects:

  • Professional Climbing Stairs

    In 2021, we relaunched our range of biodegradable and carbon-neutral lubricants which are made at solar-powered facilities using sustainable bio-based raw materials and packaged using 40% recycled plastic.

  • Woman carrying coffee and shell product

    While at more than 1,000 (15%) of our Shell-owned service stations we have completely removed single-use plastic bags and instead offer either a reusable tote bag or a recyclable alternative such as paper. Our service stations in the UK are now also 100% free from plastic cutlery.

  • Picture of Shell outlet

    In the Philippines, in 2021 we opened our first retail station built completely with eco-bricks made from plastic waste. The station was constructed using 26,500 eco-bricks made from 1,200 kg of plastic waste, equivalent to 80,000 lubricant bottles. More than 30 of our retail sites in the Philippines are partly built with eco-bricks.

  • A smiling young man collecting waste

    At our Pennsylvania Chemicals Project we are collaborating with local groups to encourage more plastics collection, recycling and education; and in our global offices we have activities in place to help reduce, reuse and recycle items like cutlery and drinking cups.

Find out more

Benefits of chemicals in everyday life

Chemicals are the key ingredients used in products that shape our modern world. They benefit every aspect of our lives. They help us live, work, care and respond to climate change.

Shell supports the Plastic Bank

Shell Retail wants to reduce and reuse waste while empowering people and communities across its 43,000 fuelling stations worldwide. Watch the film to see an example of how this ambition is being realised through a retail promotion in partnership with The Plastic Bank.

Shell Lubricants Sustainability

See how just a few simple changes could help you meet your sustainability goals without having to sacrifice business performance.