Environmental Improvements at the Site

As part of an agreement with the State, Shell invested $80 million in environmental work to repurpose an industrial site under Act 2 guidelines. Much of that $80 million was spent to manage the site’s water emissions profile and prevent the historical runoff into the Ohio River.

Specific activities include:

  • Moved 7.2 million cubic yards-plus of fill to cover entire site with average 7 feet, up to 14 feet in most contaminated areas
  • Built culverts and added barriers to prevent contamination from reaching streams, river and groundwater
  • Installed groundwater wells and other monitoring measures
  • Restored wetlands in watershed
  • Revegetating riverbank with native species, stabilize banks
  • Control all rainwater onsite
  • Working closely with regulatory agencies to ensure compliance with all requirements

In addition to the Act 2 Plan with the State, Shell also worked with the Center Township Water Authority to remove its water wells from the footprint of our site and move them upriver. In the process, Shell invested $69 million for an entirely new wastewater treatment plant for Center Township.

Shell uses plastic waste to produce chemicals

Overcoming Sustainability Challenges

Shell is building this plant and reentering the plastics business at a time the industry is facing sustainability challenges. We recognize the sustainability challenges are very important and we must address them while also delivering polyethylene and other products that are ubiquitous within our economy and ways of living.

At Shell, we believe the solution to the plastics pollution problem includes the creation of a circular economy, wherein plastic waste is marshalled, and then broken down into its chemical components, where they can then be used either as a fuel source or a feedstock for a new generation of plastic.

We have come to the conclusion that this is necessary because we see limits on the effectiveness of mechanical recycling. We see mechanical recycling as a component of how to handle plastic waste, but it is a component that falls far short of a solution. Which is why we have endorsed the creation of a circular plastics economy. Not only has Shell endorsed a plastics circular economy, we have also designed and built a plastics recycling unit at our refinery and chemical complex outside of New Orleans. We are also looking to put these in place at other chemical plants here on this continent as well as in Europe and Asia.

There is also similar momentum to create a circular plastics economy in Pennsylvania. On November 25, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law H.B. 1808, which enables advanced plastics recycling in the Keystone State. With the enactment of the Pennsylvania bill, there are now nine states in the U.S. with legislation to enable such plastics recycling.

Beyond our own efforts, Shell was proud to be a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which is a consortium of industrial, consumer facing and other companies to address the plastics waste problem, particularly in the marine environment. Much of their efforts will focus on six rivers in the less developed parts of the Eastern Hemisphere where upwards of 80% of the world’s marine plastics pollution originates.

So, here within Shell, within Pennsylvania, and indeed in other parts of the US and other parts of the globe – there is good positive momentum to address – and conquer – this serious sustainability problem. That is essential both to the well-being of the environment - and to the economic sustainability of the plastics industry. The world will no longer tolerate inaction.

The Circular Process of Recycling Plastic Waste

Title: Project Yellow

Description: A short animation depicting the circular process of recycling plastic waste.

Duration: 1:10


A rotating circular band appears on screen which is divided in to segments with pointers directed to the right indicating a constantly moving circular process. There is text in the centre.

[On Screen text]

Shell is using a feedstock made from plastic waste to create chemicals.


Appearing clockwise in each segment of the circular band, an image appears:

Segment 1 – a car, a football, a plastic bottle, a plastic bag and a laptop.

Segment 2 – A refuse disposal truck.

Segment 3 – Image of a recycling plant.

Segment 4 – Image of a Shell chemicals plant.

Segment 5 – molecular structure with 3 branches coming off it, one to a t-shirt, one to a tyre and one to a plastic bottle.

[On screen text]

How does the process work?


The screen zooms in to the segment 1 image and the image changes to a ‘life’ scene of a house, car, people walking, a male on a bike, children playing football, a high rise building and an aeroplane in the sky.

[On screen text]

Plastics are used in the home, hospitals, electronics, construction, transport, agriculture and sport.


This image reverts back to the original composition of a car, a football, a plastic bottle, a plastic bag and a laptop.

The screen then zooms in to the image of the refuse truck which picks up a refuse bin, tips the contents in to the truck and then drives away.

[On screen text]

Plastic waste is collected and sorted.


The refuse truck drives towards the recycling plant image.

[On screen text]

The plastic waste is chemically recycled…..


The image of the recycling plant enlarges on screen as arrows move from left to right above the building.

[On screen text]

…using a special heating process called pyrolysis, turning it into a liquid.


The image of a Shell chemicals plant appears on screen.

[On screen text]

This liquid is used in a cracker at a Shell chemicals plant.


Multiple images of rotating molecular structures appear on screen.

[On screen text]

This produces a range of chemicals.

These are used by customers to make thousands of final products we see every day, including plastics.


Around one of the molecular structures appears images of a t-shirt, a laptop, a tyre, a can of paint and a paintbrush, a plastic bottle and a washing machine.

The screen zooms out to show the circular process image depicted at the beginning of the video.

This then fades out.

[On screen text]

Shell’s ambition is to use one million tonnes of plastic waste a year in its global chemical plants by 2025.


A closing screen shows the Shell pectin. 

Alliance to end plastic waste

The Alliance has already started investments and projects, with 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.

Read more about the alliance on its website: www.endplasticwaste.org