Big Business Wants You To Think It’s Fixing The Plastic Crisis. Don’t Buy It.
Here’s what corporations don’t want you to know
Some corporations will say just about anything to make you love them.
Amid growing furor over plastic pollution in the oceans, the top producers of plastic waste have pledged to make more of their products recyclable. In a sense, these companies are fashioning themselves into warriors against the very problem they helped create. Their efforts might seem noble, but they’re mostly smoke and mirrors.
Experts say the best way to tackle the world’s plastic problem is to cut way back on the creation of plastics. In reality, however, virgin plastic production is hardly slowing down. Quite the opposite. It’s booming.
By one estimate, new plastic production is expected to increase by some 40 percent over the next decade. In the U.S., about $180 billion has been invested in new petrochemical plants for plastic manufacturing. A new report from the International Energy Agency, based in Paris, foresees rising demand for virgin plastics sustaining the global oil and gas sector to 2050, offsetting a projected slowdown in demand for transport fuels.
Meanwhile, more than 4 million tons of plastic debris pour into marine ecosystems every year. It’s estimated that, by 2050, there will be more plastic garbage than fish in the oceans. Much of this will be single-use packaging.
“The only way we solve the problem is if we reduce the use of plastic in the first place, and single-use consumer goods packaging is really the place where we need to do that,” says Jacqueline Savitz of the environmental nonprofit Oceana.
Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle ― top purveyors of single-use plastic items that end up as marine debris ― pledged this summer to make their packaging 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. Sounds good, right? Not when you consider that only 9 percent of plastics are recycled. Plastic PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, the kind Coke and Pepsi drinks come in, are among the most-recycled plastic items, and yet just under 30 percent of PET bottles and jars were recycled in the U.S. in 2015.
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