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VERIFY: Did the pandemic cause a plastic shortage?

The pandemic isn't the only cause of plastic shortages.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The list of supply shortages keeps piling up during the pandemic. Add plastic to the list! Is the pandemic the only reason why we're low on this everyday material? 

Our FOX54 Reporter, Keneisha Deas, finds out on this Verify segment!

THE QUESTION:

Is there simply a shortage in plastic? And is so, why?

THE SOURCES:

Solid Waste Disposal Authority of the City of Huntsville

Recycling Today - September 2021 Issue

Harvard Business Review

THE ANSWER:

Yes, the pandemic did lend a hand to the plastic shortage.

However, multiple factors to the shortage include disruptions due to severe weather at processing plants and trucking shortages.

WHAT WE FOUND:

SWDA of Huntsville Executive Director, Doc Holladay explains, "Last August, we had Hurricane Laura on the Louisiana/Texas coast. And so what it did was shut down about 10 to 15 percent of the petrochemical processing plants in that region. And so if you fast forward about another six months in February of this year, we had the big winter storm that disrupted the production of petrochemicals. In Texas, are about 100 facilities or plastics that come out of there or commodities. And so they were shut down for several weeks. And at the Harvard Business Review, [they] said it would take over six months to kind of get back to a new normal there.

"At the same time you've had a labor shortage as people have gone back to work, particularly in the waste business in the recycling business. Now then they're having to compete as people go back, maybe with some of the retailers in so what they're finding is a trucking shortage, it's hard to get commodities from point A to point B."

DIGITAL EXTRA: Is Plastic Worth More Than Aluminum?