China, Society Of The Plastics Industry, Chevron Phillips discussed on Press Play with Madeleine Brand


Who was president of the Society of the Plastics industry. And here's a little bit of what he told you. There was a lot of discussion about how difficult it was to recycle. They knew that the infrastructure wasn't there. You really have recycling amount to a whole lot right? So they knew what you just said about how difficult it is to break apart the plastic container into its various parts and reuse it. And so even though they knew that they decided to go ahead with this public relations campaign to convince the public that yes, indeed you could recycle your yogurt container. That's right. They were trying to save the image of plastics and make the public feel good about buying plastic. What about environmentalists? Didn't they know that this was a lie? Why didn't they sound the alarm? No, actually, I don't think really. Most people had any understanding for 30 years that it was so difficult to recycle plastic, and I actually think for a lot of environmental groups, there was a hope. You know, there was a really hope. I mean, this is coming after Earth Day. This is medals or being successfully recycled papers being successfully recycled. Why not plastic to weaken recycle plastic, too? And even the recyclers out there, you know, they knew that there weren't really big markets for most of the plastic, but they knew that they could probably find a buyer for soda bottles of milk jugs. One of the first recyclers in the country who was really plugged him with all of his fellow recycling center owners was out in San Diego, and he said that you know he lost money on those two items, but the public really wanted to recycle him and he felt like it was the right thing to do. So he went ahead and took those two items anyway. But for the rest of it, what I think happened for the next 20 years was that China took Plastic trash and where it went from there turns out was a little bit questionable. There was a lot of burning of the excess trash. There was a lot of bearing it and also possibly A lot of reports have come out that there was a lot of dumping that went on and dumping it in the oceans that happened as well. Until finally, China two years ago, say we don't want the plastic trash either. We can't make this work environmentally or economically either, And it was then that the curtain really was pulled back. For environmentalists and the public sort of saying this doesn't work at all because up Until then, even environmentalists were saying well, as long as it's being put on a boat to China. We're going to count that as recycled, even though there wasn't any really research into how much of this is actually being turned into something new versus how much of this is getting. Picked apart for soda bottles and milk jugs, and then the rest of it being dumped. So fast forward to now, You spoke with energy companies like Chevron and Shell. And are they doing anything differently today? The play say, I went down and talked to Chevron Phillips at a plant where they just spent $6 billion to make more plastic. Their plan is to triple the amount of plastic production by 2050. If you think about all the plastic that you have in your life right now, triple that And they're looking at, you know new countries where they can sell even more plastic. They said that they're not gonna have the same problems of the past because the plan is that they're going to recycle 100% of the plastic they make by 20 4100%. And you know, when I was talking to the head of sustainability for Chevron Phillips, he seemed very earnest. He seemed like he really believed this, he said. He really thinks they could do this. And then I also went and talked to the head of, you know, the largest lobbying group for the woman plastic industry, and he also said 100%, that's the plan by 2040. Here's the problem 20 for these a long time from now, and also the technology that they're counting on is not proven at all and hasn't worked so far. It hasn't worked for the past 30 years and fundamentally, you can't get around the same problems that existed in the nineties. There's more trash plastic trash than there's ever been. Oil is still cheaper than it. It's easier to make things out of oil than it is out of plastic trash. And plastic is harder to sort now that it's ever been and no matter how we went around in circles in the interviews, they were not able to sort of figure out how to solve those fundamental problems. And then, of course, there's one other really big problem with the idea that they will recycle 100%. Of other plastic they make. If the oil industry recycles 100% of the plastic it makes then there's no reason for anybody to buy their oil. And it's hard to understand how an industry will want to put itself out of business. So what should we do? In the meantime, just put our milk jugs and soda bottles in the blue bin and forget the rest and try to cut down on buying plastic. It's a It's a difficult question. And and I I wish even as an individual that I had a really specific answer. What I can tell you is that somehow along the way, when it came to reduce, reuse and recycle, we forgot about the first two and we ended up on recycle and it took all the oxygen out of the room. There is an element to reducing and reusing that Khun solved so much of this problem and then the other part is simply knowing that when you buy plastic, and when you're looking at in utter defeat as ideo into your grocery cart and not knowing what to dio But at least there's an awareness that all of this plastic is not going to get recycled and know that when you buy it, you are going to be throwing it out. And it is going into the landfill and even knowing that is a significant change in departure from where we've been for the past 30 years. Laura. Thank you So much for your reporting really important work. So thank you..

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