Abstract Oilfield scales have been effectively managed using scale inhibitors derived from inorganic and organic polyphosphates, carboxylic acid and carbohydrate based polymers, and ethylene diamine tetracetic acid (EDTA) based compounds. Many of these compounds are toxic and very expensive. Providentially, some of the active functionalities present in these compounds could be obtained from isolates or phytochemicals in extracts of plant materials. This paper examines how scales generate in oil and gas production, and how it has been managed using scale inhibitors. Scale inhibitor materials, their chemistry and use have been highlighted. Some plant materials (having relevant functionalities) which could be used to develop cost effective, sustainable and green scale inhibitors are discussed. Other plant materials which could fit in but are not discussed are critical food substances; hence their application as scale inhibitors can compete with food. In its present form, the ideas so discussed await practical experience which could contribute to local content development. Information presented in this paper could act as a good secondary source of information and reference for current and future researchers in the area.