Stroll along any coastline and you will be assailed by the sight of different types of single-use plastics on the beaches. And while it is not easy to classify them, the ones that we see the most are beverage bottles, bottle caps, plastic grocery bags, straws, stirrers, lids, and foam structures.
And studies have found that just 20 companies are responsible for over 50% of the global production of single-use plastics, 55% to be precise. And a majority of them are based in North American, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Just 3 Companies Produce Nearly 16% Of World’s Single-Use Plastics
And Exxon Mobil sits right there at the top of the pile of super producers of single-use plastics with 5.9 million tons.
The already worsening situation is compounded by these companies. And Exxon Mobil along with Dow Chemicals and Sinopec of China are together responsible for throwing up 16% of the total worldwide global waste. Dow Chemicals produced nearly 5.5 million tons and Sinopec, 5.3 million tons. Other notable producers are Saudi Aramco, PetroChina, Reliance Industries, and several other Chinese companies.
And when it comes to countries, Australia is the highest producer of single-use plastic waste with nearly 59 kilos of single-use plastic per person. The US is second, while the UK comes in at fourth.
Carried out by a consortium that included the London School of Economics, the study found that 90% of the total production was done by just 100 companies. And only 10 to 15 percent of such plastic is recycled. The rest end up in oceans and landfills polluting the planet’s water, land, and air for an eternity.
Staring At An Environmental Catastrophe
And developing countries will be at the receiving end of much of the harm as they have poor waste management systems. And the overwhelming rate of production of virgin polymers will make the recycling of such plastics unviable. Only government regulations can put a stop to that, and that has to happen at the global level.
Dominic Charles, the finance and transparency director at the foundation said that emphasis should be put on the source of production and not just on the end-users of such items. We need to shut off the tap, he said.
Creating A Wasteful Society
Professor Sam Fankhauser, a climate change specialist said that while petrochemicals are polluting the atmosphere through burning fuels, another byproduct is choking the land and oceans.
Only a move towards more recycling or plastics could help and the companies have a huge role to play in this. And in the end, the benefits are for all.
Exxon has pledged its commitment to more recycling of products but such promises usually fall flat in the absence of active regulations. And while the world dithers, Greenpeace reported that waste from England was found dumped in Turkey. This shows that no one can remain isolated from the crisis.