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Plastic waste report reveals 20 firms produce 55% of single use plastics

A troubling climate report has emerged this week revealing that 20 companies are responsible for producing more than half of the world’s single use plastic waste.

At Thred we’re anything but shy in our condemnation of single use plastics and their continued fuelling of an environmental crisis. As of this week though, we may finally start to get some accountability from those most responsible.

An aggregator firm called the Plastic Waste Makers has revealed the companies liable for mass producing the most single use plastic waste destined for our landfills, oceans, and atmosphere.

From face masks to plastic bags to bottles, this report has outed the top 100 producers of polymers synonymous with single use plastic globally, highlighting each of their contributions to the millions of metric tons that fail to be recycled every year.

Made almost exclusively from fossil fuels – especially fracked gas – both the production and consumption of single use plastics are becoming key drivers of the climate crisis. As some of the hardest items to recycle, a poultry 15% of single use plastic is recycled annually.

The report’s top 20 – which we’ll get to in due course, don’t worry – are said to be responsible for producing 55% of all plastic waste and fall under the brackets of both state-owned and multinational corporations. Mostly comprised of oil/gas giants and chemical companies, the top 100 reportedly accounts for approximately 90% SUP waste.

It’s no exaggeration to say the fate of the world’s plastic disaster quite literally rests in their hands.

Many of the companies we’re about to discuss here aren’t exactly household names anyway, but the backlash they’re to receive from activists and NGO’s definitely won’t be pretty.

At the summit of the biggest polluters sits energy corporation ExxonMobil contributing 5.9 million tons to the global waste total, while US based chemicals giant Dow follows closely in second on 5.4 million, with China’s gas enterprise Sinopec in third on 5.3 million.

11 of the companies in question are based in Asia, four in Europe, three in North America, one in Latin America, and one in the Middle East. Take a look through the full list here and familiarise yourself with all of them. What’s that old proverb about enemies?

It’s also worth noting the willingness of leading banks, despite the current climate, to continue lending massive funds to support SUP polymer production. Chief among the biggest culprits are Barclays, HSBC, Bank of America, Citigroup, and JPMorgan Chase.

Additionally, the report traces the majority of industry investment to 20 institutional asset managers including Vanguard Group, BlackRock, and Capital Group, which hold a collective $300 billion stake in some of the key offenders.

‘These companies are the source of the single-use plastic crisis: their production of new virgin polymers from oil, gas, and coal feedstocks perpetuates the take-make-waste dynamic of the plastics economy,’ stated an author of the report.

With plastic waste already at crisis levels, and worsening every year by the way, the problem could exacerbate dramatically in the next five years with industry predictions forecasting an increase of SUP polymers by 30%. Further down the line, plastic is expected to account for up to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 if we don’t see drastic change.

If you hadn’t gathered by reading these numbers, the challenge ahead of us is huge. Hypocrisy from world leaders preaching sustainable change is rife when you consider that 30% of value in the SUP plastic sector is state-owned globally.

There are, however, a few crumbs of positivity to take away from this eye-opening story. When it comes to the future of the planet, we’ll take the truth over blissful ignorance any day.

If anything, we now have a greater understanding of how best to align our activist efforts and meaningfully change sustainable reform.