Twenty companies mostly with international reach are responsible for producing more than half of the world’s single-use plastic waste that helped accelerate the climate crisis and global pollution, according to an analysis on Tuesday.
The list includec companies from China and the United States, which were cited as among the worst offenders, and the Covid-19 pandemic worsened soild waste pollution because of mandatory face mask use.
The Plastics Waste Makers index, created by the nonprofit Minderoo Foundation, said the companies produce a range of products, like face masks that have become mandatory during the Covid-19 pandemic, plastic shopping bags, water bottles and other items that are polluting oceans.
Tuesday’s report said single-use plastics “account for the majority of plastic thrown away the world over: more than 130 million metric tons in 2019 – almost all of which is burned, buried in landfill, or discarded directly into the environment.”
“Of all the plastics, they are the most likely to end up in our ocean, where they account for almost all visible pollution, in the range of five to 13 million metric tons each year,” the report stated.
U.S.-based ExxonMobil and Dow and Chinese oil and gas company Sinopec are the ones producing the most single-use plastics. The study says those three companies alone account for 16 percent of all single-use plastic waste.
Other top producers of single-use plastics, according to the index, are Indorama Ventures, Saudi Aramco, PetroChina, LyondellBasell, Reliance Industries, Braskem and Alpek SA de CV.
Also on the list are Phillips 66 (No. 23), Chevron (27), Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (31), Shell (51) and Petronas (83).
“Of approximately 300 polymer producers operating globally, a small fraction holds the fate of the world’s plastics crisis in their hands,” it said.
“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,” it added.
The report also blames investors and banks like the VanguardGroup, BlackRock and Capital Group for enabling companies by holding more than $300 billion in shares in their parent companies.
Tuesday’s analysis calls for governments and world leaders to create policies encouraging the use of recyclable plastics, identify financial supporters of single-use plastic creators and seek laws that would penalize those who don’t mitigate the waste.