Enabling single use plastic

 

The production of single-use plastic will expand dramatically in the next few years, enabled by the financial community and the strong participation of  investors and banks.  Who are the top 20 investment companies and banks?  What does this strong backing mean for the plastic waste crisis?  These questions are asked and answered in the Minderoo Foundation’s   “The Plastic Waste Makers Index 2021:Revealing the source of the single-use plastis crisis”.

 

The well-documented* report reveals 5 major findings:

  1. Led by ExonMobil, Dow and Sinopec, a small fraction of the world’s polymer producers create half of the single-use plastic, and their choices to make virgin polymers instead of recycled ones “holds the fate of the world’s plastic crisis in their hands.”
  2. Twenty investment companies hold over $300 billion worth of shares of the parent companies of the biggest polymer producers in the world, and twenty of the world’s biggest banks have loaned more than $30 billion to these companies since 2011.
  3. A transition to a circular model of recycled plastics has failed.
  4. Much of the expanded single-use plastic production will overwhelm countries with poor waste management infrastructure,, and likely keep reuse and circular models underfunded, or “ ‘out of the money’” unless well-written regulatory stimulation policies are started.
  5. Single-use plastic waste is an entrenched problem that will require enormous political will, and far more than corporate leadership and “enlightened” capital markets alone.

 

The 85-page report is a must read for those who want to understand the geopolitical entrenchment that underlies the plastic waste problem.  It starts with a succinct Executive Summary, and notes that the problem is exacerbated by the interests of countries with State owned polymer production companies.  Together these countries control 30% of the sector.  

It also notes that high income countries often sell large amounts of plastic to low and middle-income countries who generate less single-use plastic per person, but create more mismanaged waste due to a lack of adequate waste management infrastructure.

Link to Full Report

Link to Minderoo Foundation

* Link to Basis of Preparation Document

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