How much oil is used to make plastic?
Although crude oil is a source of raw material (feedstock) for making plastics, it is not the major source of feedstock for plastics production in the United States. Plastics are produced from natural gas, feedstocks derived from natural gas processing, and feedstocks derived from crude oil refining. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is unable to determine the specific amounts or origin of the feedstocks that are actually used to manufacture plastics in the United States.
Petrochemical feedstock naphtha and other oils refined from crude oil are used as feedstocks for petrochemical crackers that produce the basic building blocks for making plastics. EIA data can only identify those oil-derived feedstocks specifically designated as petrochemical feedstock by petroleum refineries in EIA’s refining surveys, which break out into Naphtha For Petrochemical Feedstock Use and Other Oils For Petrochemical Feedstock Use. However, the petrochemical industry also consumes large quantities of hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs).
The majority of HGLs produced in the United States are byproducts of natural gas processing, and the rest are produced at crude oil/petroleum refineries. The HGLs produced by U.S. petroleum refineries contain both alkanes and olefins. Alkanes can be used as feedstock for petrochemical crackers, whereas refinery olefins, primarily propylene, but also minor quantities of ethylene and butylenes, can be used as direct inputs into plastics manufacturing. Because the petrochemical industry has a high degree of flexibility in the feedstock it consumes and because EIA does not collect detailed data on this aspect of industrial consumption, it is not possible for EIA to identify the actual amounts and origin of the materials used as inputs by industry to manufacture plastics.
Energy Explained: Hydrocarbon Gas Liquids
Energy Explained: Refining Crude Oil—Inputs and Outputs
Last reviewed: June 1, 2021
Other FAQs about Oil/Petroleum
- Does EIA have county-level energy production data?
- Does EIA have data on U.S. oil refineries and their locations?
- Does EIA have data on the movement (transport) of crude oil, petroleum products, fuel ethanol, and biodiesel by rail?
- Does EIA have data on the type or quality of crude oil?
- Does EIA have forecasts or projections for energy production, consumption, and prices for individual states?
- Does EIA have information on U.S. natural gas and oil pipelines?
- Does EIA have information on unplanned outages or shutdowns of U.S. energy infrastructure?
- Does the world have enough oil to meet our future needs?
- How many alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles are there in the United States?
- How many gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel are made from one barrel of oil?
- How much coal, natural gas, or petroleum is used to generate a kilowatthour of electricity?
- When was the last refinery built in the United States?
- How much of the crude oil produced in the United States is consumed in the United States?
- How much oil consumed by the United States comes from foreign countries?
- How much oil is consumed in the United States?
- How much oil is used to make plastic?
- How much petroleum does the United States import and export?
- How much shale (tight) oil is produced in the United States?
- What are petroleum products, and what is petroleum used for?
- What countries are the top producers and consumers of oil?
- What do I pay for in a gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel?
- What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?
- What is the difference between crude oil, petroleum products, and petroleum?
- What is the outlook for home heating fuel prices this winter?
- What types and amounts of energy are produced in each state?