We all know single-use plastics are the scourge of the planet right now, but most don't realize the problem is only getting worse. In the next five years, our global capacity to produce virgin polymers (as opposed to recycled) is forecasted to rise by 30 percent. And that's apparently still not enough to meet demand. According to a the Mindaroo Foundation, the biggest purveyors of single-use plastics could expand their production by up to 400%.
Exxon Mobile and DOW both sit atop the list. They, along with the rest of the top 20 polymer producers, contribute 50% of the plastic waste created globally.
Not surprisingly, this issue has reached a fever pitch in countries where waste management is a problem. Sadly, that's far too many.
Fortunately, the pressure for real change is mounting. Support for banning the use of single-use plastic is rising all over the world. In March, The UN Environmental Assembly announced that more than 175 countries endorsed a resolution to end plastic pollution, with their intended next step to be a binding treaty that defines what plastic waste is, and milestones to stopping it.
While the sentiment for a single-use plastic waste ban in the U.S. lags behind other countries, there's added heat being delivered to polluters with the election year in play. California's attorney general Rob Bonta said he'd be issuing a subpoena to Exxon Mobile as part of a broader investigation into the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries' role in "causing and exacerbating the global plastics pollution crisis."
"For more than half a century, the plastics industry has engaged in an aggressive campaign to deceive the public, perpetuating a myth that recycling can solve the plastics crisis. The truth is: The vast majority of plastic cannot be recycled," Bonta said in a statement.