A Civilization advance.
One of the spinoffs of research into more efficient refining of crude oil was the invention of plastics, organic polymer materials that retain their strength when molded into almost any shape. Plastics were quickly adopted as cheap, sturdy substitutes for more traditional materials, and seemed at first to be a wonder of the Industrial Age. However, it turned out that most plastics do not decay naturally, making them difficult to dispose of. This has led to significant pollution problems.
Prerequisites: Space Flight and Refining.
Allows for: Robotics and Superconductor.