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Campaign slams 'hypocrisy' of industry anti-plastics group

Companies involved in the launch of a $1bn campaign to eliminate plastic waste are guilty of hypocrisy because most are also investing heavily in plastics plants, a campaign group has claimed.

Recycling Netwerk, which is based in Belgium and the Netherlands, said the list of companies that founded the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) “reads as a who’s who of companies investing billions of dollars to produce even more plastics”.

Research by the group found that many AEPW members have planned investments in the plastic production worth far more than their donations to the alliance.

A statement from Recycling Netwerk said: “The alliance was launched with a huge marketing effort [last] Wednesday. The signatories claim to invest over a billion dollars to ‘end plastic waste’.

“But an overview of pending investments in the expansion of plastic production quickly reveals the hypocrisy of the alliance. Without tackling the production of plastic at its source, all clean-up efforts will be in vain.”

The group said public opinion has changed in the past year, notably with increased concern about plastics pollution in oceans, and the AEPW’s formation appeared to be a reaction to this.

“Clean-ups of streets, rivers and seas offer no effective solution as long as a steady stream of new plastics keeps being produced, and collected in a half-hearted way,” Recycling Netwerk said.

“These kinds of actions aim to save the image of plastic. But plastics don’t have a mere image problem – the exaggerated use of it in products with a short lifespan is a problem in itself.”

Plastics projects planned by AEPW members included two BASF plants in China, five projects by Exxon Mobil including in the US and China, and the commissioning of two polyester plants by Reliance Industries.

Waste firms Suez and Veolia, which signed up to the AEPW, were listed as investors in plastics recycling.

The AEPW has been approached for comment.

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