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Shale Gas Reshapes U.S. Plastics Industry

A woman shops for milk in a Chicago grocery store. Natural gas is an essential raw ingredient for plastics, like these milk bottles.

Pennsylvania’s abundance of Marcellus Shale gas has helped drive down the price of natural gas to all-time lows. That’s bad news for drillers, but good news for their customers. And one of the main consumers of natural gas in the U.S is the petrochemical industry. Shale gas has been a boon for the folks who manufacture plastics and plastic products. George Biltz spent three decades in the chemical and manufacturing industries. Biltz is vice president of energy and climate change for Dow Chemical. I began the conversation by asking him how natural gas is used as a raw material, or “feedstock,” for all kinds of products.

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