Environmental groups are slamming a new nonprofit that have pledged to back a total of US$1 billion to enhance recycling techniques and reduce plastic waste efforts. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), spearheaded by the industry’s top oil and chemical companies has been met with criticism as detractors argue these plastics value corporations are a main source of the problem to begin with.
“This is a desperate attempt from corporate polluters to maintain the status quo on plastics,” Graham Forbes, Global Plastic Project Leader of Greenpeace said in a statement. “The same companies that rely on cheap plastics to profit off of countries in the global south are now looking to build up some infrastructure so they can claim they tried to tackle the plastics problem, while ensuring their profits keep rolling in. The truth is we will never escape this plastic pollution crisis through better recycling and waste management efforts – only 9 percent of the plastics ever made have actually been recycled. But corporations love to use recycling as a crutch to continue production of cheap plastics.”
Representing a broad spectrum of the global plastics industry, which include Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobile, Procter & Gamble, Formosa Plastics Corporation, Shell and other oil, chemical and waste management enterprises, more than 30 companies have committed to leveraging their respective technical resources and will partner with government, finance communities, and innovation agencies to scale solutions and prevent ocean plastic waste.
Unveiling a four core approach, the AEPW have plans to make key investments in infrastructure development to collect and manage waste and increase recycling; innovation to advance and scale new technologies that make recycling and recovering plastics easier and create value from all post-use plastics; education and engagement of governments, businesses, and communities to mobilize action; and clean up concentrated areas of plastic waste already in the environment, particularly the major conduits of waste like rivers and oceans. Initial projects will begin in the next few months with a focus first on Southeast Asia.
Since China banned the import of global plastic trash in 2017, it shifted the waste crisis to neighboring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines – many who lack the infrastructure and technology to properly dispose plastic. Illegal waste factories have taken to using hazardous methods of disposal like open-air burning or leaving them water streams to contaminate soil and water sources.
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