The Plastic Industry's Fight to Keep Polluting the World

Lerner, Sharon

Publisher:  The Intercept
Date Written:  20/07/2019
Year Published:  2019  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23746

An in-depth look at the failure of recycling intiatives and the plastics industry's PR efforts that put the onus on small scale efforts to reduce waste while they fight any initiatives that curb production at the industry level.




Although China's turnabout made the failure of the plastics recycling system suddenly and undeniably obvious, in truth the plastics problem has been with us as long as plastic has. Over the decades, as production has grown exponentially, we've never managed to repurpose even one-tenth of our plastic waste. Since the EPA began tracking plastics recycling in 1994, when the U.S. recycled less than 5 percent, the rate went up only about 5 percent, peaking at 9.5 percent in 2014....

The confluence of terrible news has taken public outrage over plastic to a new level. Once regarded mostly as an eyesore or a nuisance, plastic waste is now widely understood to be a cause of species extinction, ecological devastation, and human health problems. And because more than 99 percent of plastic is derived from oil, natural gas, and coal — and because its destruction also uses fossil fuels — environmental groups now recognize plastic as a major contributor to climate change....

All in all, Long admitted, it had been a tough year, in which some 376 anti-plastics bills were introduced, and the perception of the plastics industry has continued to "spiral down exponentially." The Plastics Industry Association is taking its cratering image seriously, working to offset it with pro-plastics presentations for elementary and middle school students, a plastics ambassadors program and, so young people can "feel good about" working in the industry, Long said, a "future leaders in plastics" group.
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