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Attorney General from California Rob Bonta announced an investigation into the petrochemical and fossil fuel industry’s part in worsening plastics pollution and misleadingly promoting recycling’s responsibility in solving this.
“For over 50 years now, the plastics industry has taken part in a hostile campaign to lie to the public, spreading the myth that recycling will solve the plastic crisis,” explained Bonta in a press release. “Truthfully, most plastics are not recyclable, and the recycling rate has never gone above 9%.”
As part of the investigation, oil giant Exxon Mobil has been subpoenaed for their alleged role in amplifying the plastics crisis.
This news attributes the plastics crisis to the oil and gas industry. They have rapidly increased plastic production because the demand for fuel has gone dramatically during this clean energy transition.
Bonta’s office said that efforts to offload the excess shale gas supply as they are investing $208 billion over 35o projects in the oil and gas industry for various chemicals projects.
This investment is part of a much larger trend that has seen yearly global plastics production has grown from 1.5 million tons during the 50s to 300 million tons today.
Local and state legislatures attempted to pass plastic bans as the industry started marketing campaigns to promote recycling.
A group at the forefront of the marketing push is the Council for Solid Waste Solutions, which involved petrol companies that included Chevron, Exxon, DuPont, Mobil, and Phillips 66. They had spent “millions to fight plastics ‘image’ issues” by buying ads in significant magazines praising the benefits of recycling, the California Attorney General’s website reads.
According to a 2017 study, 79% of the plastics being produced will end up in landfills, and another 12% will be incinerated. Once plastics end up in a land, they can take hundreds of years to decompose.
Bonta said, “Each week, people consume about a credit card’s worth of plastics through drinking water, food, and in the air we breathe. This investigation will look at the fossil fuel industry’s role in starting and worsening the plastics pollution crisis and the laws they may have broken.”