20 companies are the source of more than half of all single-use plastic waste

An analysis of the corporate network behind plastic production found that just 20 companies are the source of more than half of all the single-use plastic items thrown away globally.

The research was carried out by a consortium including the London School of Economics and one of its major findings was that in 2019, just 20 polymer producers accounted for more than half of all single-use plastic waste generated globally – and the top 100 accounted for 90 per cent.

The biggest offenders? ExxonMobil and Dow – both based in the USA – top the list, followed by China-based Sinopec, with these three companies together accounting for 16 per cent of global single-use plastic waste.

As the report states: “their choice to continue to produce virgin polymers, rather than recycled polymers, will have massive repercussions on how much waste is collected, is managed and leaks into the environment.”

Also in the top 20 were Indorama Ventures, Saudi Aramco, PetroChina, LyondellBasell, Reliance Industries, Braskem and Total.

The data also calls out the world’s banks that have lent an estimated US$30 billion for the production of single-use polymers since 2011. Topping the list is Barclays, followed by JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and HSBC.

This research is important because it focuses on the consumer companies that are making and selling consumer products packaged in plastic, instead of the impact of plastic waste on the natural world. It is looking at the tap, not the overflowing sink.

Read an article on the report here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-57149741

Or read more about the index here: https://www.minderoo.org/plastic-waste-makers-index/

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Charli Ferrand Higgins

After a decade working for global and boutique PR and Marketing agencies in Sydney, with clients that included some of the biggest consumer brands in the world, Charli returned to her homeland of the UK in 2017 and decided the time had come to use her professional skills and experience for good. She has since split her time between supporting passionate, purpose-driven small and medium-sized businesses to grow through conscious content marketing, managing and editing the planet-positive content hub Earth Collective (weareearthcollective.com), and hosting the podcast Easy Being Green? Lessons in sustainable business for SMEs.

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