12 Burst results for "Chevron Dow Dupont"

"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on Planet Money

Planet Money

06:47 min | 3 months ago

"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on Planet Money

"Hey, Sarah Gonzalez here. So in 2020, NPR investigative correspondent Laura Sullivan came to us with a story. The story was about the big lie about recycling plastics and she had receipts. We made a show about it with Laura and PBS frontline. And we're going to play that episode again today because it just won a big award. The Alfred I DuPont Columbia University award. So we're going to replay it today in part because we're proud and we want to celebrate, but also because this is a show that changed the way a lot of people, including a lot of us at planet money, think about the oil industry and recycling plastics. This is planet money from NPR. Back in the 1980s, here's how recycling worked. You could recycle glass, paper and metal, but recycling plastic wasn't really a thing yet. The cost of recycling plastic was really expensive. So nobody collected it. This is coy Smith. He ran a recycling business out in San Diego. And even though it was too expensive by the early 1990s, coy decided he was going to let his customers recycle two types of plastic. Milk jugs and soda bottles. But then one day his customers just out of nowhere started throwing in more than just milk drugs and soda bottles. They were throwing in peanut butter jars and strawberry containers and toothpaste tubes, and coy Smith was like, wait, who told them they could throw all this plastic in the bin. He starts looking at all the plastic. He's flipping it over, and then he sees something that he's never seen on the plastic before. This little symbol. The symbol starts showing up on the containers. All this plastic, all of a sudden is stamped with a little triangle of arrows. You know the one. The international recycling symbol. All of a sudden, the consumer is looking at what's on their soda bottle, and they're looking at what's on their yogurt tub and saying, oh, well, they both have a symbol. Oh, I guess they both go in. They were these little numbers inside the triangle, plastic number one, plastic number four, number 7. No one really understood what they meant. But there was this recycling symbol on it, so people just threw everything in, and all over the country, recycling bins were suddenly full of plastic. The recyclers couldn't sell. I would call my buddy Eric at eco cycle in boulder, Colorado and say, Eric, are you having this problem? And he would say, yes, and I call Mary at in St. Paul Minnesota and say, Mary, are you having that problem in St. Paul and she's absolutely we are. And Brooke from Solana recyclers were saying, are you having this problem with the stuff and I'm like, yes I am. This new triangle of arrows with the little number inside. It wasn't some insider Y code that was slapped on plastic containers without much thought. These numbers, the arrows. It was a decision, a very intentional decision. And this stamp made people believe something that wasn't true that all this plastic trash could be and would be, turned into something else. Now, you may remember a planet many episode we did last year where we told you that only a tiny portion of plastics are being recycled. Basically just the soda bottles and milk jugs. It's not that you can't physically recycle other plastics. It's just that it doesn't usually make sense. Economically. And heartbreakingly, it doesn't usually make sense environmentally either. This upset many of our listeners who wrote in and said, no planet money, this can not be true, but it is. So if recycling plastic is not working now. And it didn't work 30 years ago when the numbers and arrows first popped up. Did it ever work? And that, that led us to the biggest question of all. If this has all been a lie, where did it come from? Hello and welcome to planet money. I'm Sarah Gonzalez and I'm Laura Sullivan. Laura is one of NPR's incredible investigative reporters and today on the show. Laura set out with the support of PBS frontline to find out who is responsible for this great plastic lie. And what I found was a paper trail. Crinkled up documents that apparently did not get recycled, long forgotten in old boxes, and the trail leads. Well, the leafs store guy named Larry. Hey, so it's black history month and to celebrate NPR's book of the day podcast is digging into the archives and bringing you conversations from important and interesting writers from our history. Alex Haley, Toni Morrison Octavia butler and more. So listen, to the book of the day podcast from NPR. So how did millions of Americans come to believe that most plastic would be recycled when that's not actually true? Laura Sullivan is going to take the story from here. Okay, it seemed like a good place to start, was the plastic industry. They make the stuff. Did they know the truth about recycling plastic? I headed to one of the birthplaces of plastic. Plastic comes from oil. But really, a lot of it comes from the DuPont chemical company. And some of the plastic industries old records are housed in the hagley library. It's this stone building on the grounds of the first DuPont family home in Delaware. This is a place that actually used to store sodium nitrate back when DuPont made gunpowder, not plastic. There's an archivist with a bow tie in a handlebar mustache, named Lucas clawson. And he looks like someone who would make a cocktails. Lucas wheeled out a cart of boxes. Thank you. Files that documented the discovery of a chemical marvel that changed the world. A product that looked like glass, but didn't break. A product that could also look like lightweight fluff, but keep things hot called styrofoam. And an incredible new film that can preserve food for days called saran wrap. There were a couple clues about recycling inside the boxes from the industry's most powerful lobby group at the time. The society of the plastics industry. Their job was to lobby for the big oil and plastic companies. So think Exxon Chevron Dow DuPont. And there's this one memo from 1973. The environmental movement is just being born, and one of the top people in the plastics industry is talking about how the cost of sorting plastic is high. But it seemed like a lot of the documents were missing. I find a reference to a memo or a report. But then I noticed that someone had drawn a line through it. Hey, Lucas. Hi. Can I ask you a question? Absolutely. Okay. Why? One.

Laura Sullivan coy Smith Sarah Gonzalez NPR Alfred I DuPont Columbia Unive Laura PBS St. Paul Eric coy Mary Solana Octavia butler San Diego boulder Brooke DuPont chemical Minnesota Colorado hagley library
"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on KQED Radio

KQED Radio

03:42 min | 1 year ago

"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on KQED Radio

"So how did millions of Americans come to believe that most plastic would be recycled? And that's not actually true. Laura Sullivan is going to take the story from here. Okay. It seemed like a good place to start was the plastic industry. They make the stuff. Did they know the truth about recycling plastic? Headed to one of the birthplaces of plastic plastic comes from oil. But really a lot of it comes from the DuPont chemical Company and some of the classic industries. Old records are housed in the Hagley Library. It's this stone building on the grounds of the first DuPont family home in Delaware. This is a place that actually used to store sodium nitrate back when DuPont made gunpowder, not plastic. Is an archivist with a bow tie and a handlebar mustache named Lucas Clawson. And he looks like someone who would make good cocktails. Lucas wheeled out a cart of boxes. Thank you. You won't right. Miles. That documented the discovery of a chemical marvel that changed the world a product that look like glass but didn't break a product that could also look like lightweight fluff. But keep things hot, called Styrofoam and an incredible new film that could preserve food for days called Saran Wrap. There were a couple clues about recycling inside the boxes from the industry's most powerful lobby group. At the time, the society of the plastics industry, their job was the lobby for the big oil and plastic companies. So think Exxon, Chevron Dow DuPont And there's this one memo from 1973. The environmental movement is just being born and one of the top people in the plastics industry is talking about how the cost of sorting plastic Is high. But it seemed like a lot of the documents were were missing. I find a reference to a memo over report. But then I noticed that someone had drawn a line through it. Hey, Lucas. Can I ask you a question? Okay. Why in this section are all plus disease have so many of these sort of cross outs? Because those records are no longer happy. They're not here anymore. They're not. Where did they go? The society of the plastics industry asked for them back. Thank you. They really Yes. It's an unusual It doesn't happen often. Yeah. Do you know? Do you know why they took them? Did they say I do not know, huh? Okay. Of course, there are all kinds of reasons why an industry lobbying group might want its records back. I did call the society the plastic folks and ask them. If I could see the records they took. They said no. So I headed to another library this time at Syracuse University, and they're buried in its stacks are boxes of files donated from an industry consultant. Actually, the industry consultant died and the wife found the boxes and gave them to Syracuse and inside these boxes. I found what I was looking for A report was sent to top oil and plastic executives in 1973. It says recycling plastic is nearly impossible. There is no recovery from obsolete products. It says. Recycling is costly. Sorting. It is infeasible. Plus, it says plastic degrades every time you try to reuse it. So the oil in plastic industry new they've known for almost 50 years. And then I found more confidential memos and meetings that echo decades of this knowledge Inside thousands of pages of courtroom discovery, There's a speech from an.

Lucas Clawson DuPont chemical Company DuPont Laura Sullivan Chevron Dow DuPont Hagley Library Saran Wrap sodium nitrate consultant Syracuse University Delaware Exxon Syracuse
"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on KCRW

KCRW

03:48 min | 1 year ago

"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on KCRW

"How they say they've done it. Thanks again for signing on Operation Clean Sweep Operation Clean Sweep is a voluntary program the industry came up with in 1991. Companies that joined watch videos and promised to keep pellets from spilling from plant truck ships and rail cars. There's no data required. No numbers, nothing public. The operation Clean sweep is truly making a difference. Together, we can achieve zero pellet flake and proud of us. The industry says it's been a success. Pellet containment is incredibly important to our members. Steve Russell was until recently the vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, which jointly runs the program, Nobody wants plastic in the environment. And if it still happens, and if we're gonna assume it's an accidental release, then it will be reported and remediation steps could be taken. Formosa is an operation Clean sweep member. So I asked to former workers and Ronnie Hambrick about it. I have no idea what she even talking about. I've never heard it. There's evidence the industry does, in fact, have a pellet problem. Recent spills on beaches in Louisiana in South Carolina and studies show pellets are contaminating oceans, killing birds and fish and carrying toxins through rivers. There's also evidence the industry has known about this problem all along. In 2005, the industry participated in a study of 10 pellet plants. It found pellets washed away in heavy rain at every single facility and called Operation Clean Sweep inadequate. But even long before that, there's a memo buried inside thousands of documents left over from old industry lawsuit. It was written in March 1991. The industry's trade association, warrants top executives from Exxon, Chevron, Dow, DuPont and others. That the EPA had recently found pellets to be quote ubiquitous in the environment, regulation and permits are likely coming, the memo says. Unless they act quickly, it may still be possible to institute voluntary programs to address the pellet issue, it says. Unless this occurs, it is likely EPA will act independently. Then, just four months later, we developed a program that was called Operation Clean Sweep. Lou Freeman was a vice president at the time for the trade association, then called the Society of the Plastics industry. I don't recall any discussions. About quantitatively measuring the success of the program. It was being measured really about who is participating that what the results were, so it was a voluntary program without any metrics. Yeah, I would like to think that they were also doing it because it was the right thing to do. But it also be naive if I didn't think that much of the motivation was was governed by, you know, Keeping the regulators off our back today. The EPA doesn't regulate pellets and in the almost 30 years since, the agency told NPR it has brought just 10 Clean Water Act enforcement cases against facilities accused of spilling pellets. How would anyone really know if pellets were leaking? If you head down to the Gulf of Mexico pellet manufacturers like Chevron Phillips say they're not. I can tell you that. It's not a problem here at Chevron Phillips, we have almost no Let's leaving our sights. Jim Bakker is the vice president of sustainability for Chevron Phillips. He met me in a warehouse after plant officials showed me pawns and drains, they said, catch all of the pellets. You. You've heard a little bit about Operation Clean sweep. We've been practicing that since the company was formed. How do you know that? That you've.

Chevron Phillips EPA vice president Formosa vice president of plastics Jim Bakker Chevron Ronnie Hambrick Society of the Plastics indust Steve Russell Lou Freeman American Chemistry Council Exxon Mexico Louisiana South Carolina DuPont NPR
"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on KQED Radio

KQED Radio

03:44 min | 1 year ago

"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on KQED Radio

"Program. The industry came up with in 1991 Cos. That joined watch videos and promised to keep pellets from spilling her plants, trucks, ships and rail cars. There's no data required. No numbers, nothing public. The operation Clean sweep is truly making a difference. Together. We can achieve zero pellet flake and proud of us. Theo industry says it's been a success. Pellet containment is incredibly important to our members. Steve Russell was until recently the vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, which jointly runs the program. Nobody wants plastic in the environment and If it still happens, and if we're gonna assume it's an accidental release, then it will be reported and remediation steps could be taken. Formosa is an operation Clean sweep member. So I asked to former workers and Ronnie Hamrick about it. I have no idea what she even talking about. I've never heard it. There's evidence the industry does, in fact, have a pellet problem. Recent spills on beaches in Louisiana in South Carolina and studies show pellets are contaminating oceans, killing birds and fish and carrying toxins through rivers. There's also evidence the industry has known about this problem all along. In 2005, the industry participated in a study of 10 pellet plants. It found pellets washed away in heavy rain at every single facility. And called Operation Clean Sweep inadequate. But even long before that, there's a memo buried inside thousands of documents left over from old industry lawsuit. It was written in March. 1991, the industry's trade association, warns top executives from Exxon, Chevron, Dow, DuPont and others. But the EPA had recently found pellets to be quote ubiquitous in the environment. Regulation and permits are likely coming, the memo says. Unless they act quickly, it may still be possible to institute voluntary programs to address the pellet issue, it says. Unless this occurs, it is likely EPA will act independently. Then, just four months later, we developed a program that it was called Operation Clean Sweep. Lou Freeman was a vice president at the time for the trade association, then called the Society of the Plastics industry. I don't recall any discussions. But quantitatively measuring the success of the program. It was being measured really about who is participating that what the results were, so it was a voluntary program without any metrics. Yeah, I would like to think that they were also doing it because it was the right thing to do. But I'd also be naive if I didn't think that much of the motivation was was governed by, you know. Keeping the regulators off our back today. The EPA doesn't regulate pallets and in the almost 30 years since, the agency told NPR it has brought just 10 Clean Water Act enforcement cases against facilities accused of spilling pellets. How would anyone really know if pellets were leaking? If you head down to the Gulf of Mexico pellet manufacturers like Chevron Phillips say they're not. I can tell you that. It's not a problem here at Chevron Phillips, we have almost no pallets, leaving our sights. Jim Becker is the vice president of sustainability for Chevron Phillips. He met me in a warehouse after plant officials showed me ponds and drains, they said, catch all of the pellets. You. You've heard a little bit about Operation Clean sweep. We've been practicing that since the company was formed. How do you know that? That you had almost no hell,.

Theo industry Chevron Phillips EPA vice president Formosa vice president of plastics Society of the Plastics indust Chevron Ronnie Hamrick Steve Russell Jim Becker Lou Freeman American Chemistry Council Mexico Exxon Louisiana South Carolina DuPont NPR
"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on KCRW

KCRW

03:47 min | 1 year ago

"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on KCRW

"They say they've done it. Thanks again for signing on the operation Clean Sweep Operation Clean Sweep is a voluntary program the industry came up with in 1991. Companies that joined watch videos and promised to keep pellets from spilling from plant truck ships and rail cars. There's no data required. No numbers, nothing public. The operation Clean sweep is truly making a difference. Together, we can achieve zero pellet flake and proud of us. The industry says it's been a success. Pellet containment is incredibly important to our members. Steve Russell was until recently the vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, which jointly runs the program, Nobody wants plastic in the environment. And if it still happens, and if we're gonna assume it's an accidental release, then it will be reported and remediation steps could be taken. Formosa is an operation Clean sweep member. So I asked to former workers and Ronnie Hamrick about it. I have no idea what you even talking about. I've never heard it. There's evidence the industry does, in fact, have a pellet problem. Recent spills on beaches in Louisiana and South Carolina and studies show pellets are contaminating oceans, killing birds and fish and carrying toxins through rivers. There's also evidence the industry has known about this problem all along. In 2005, the industry participated in a study of 10 pellet plants. It found pellets washed away in heavy rain at every single facility and called Operation Clean Sweep inadequate. But even long before that, there's a memo buried inside thousands of documents left over from old industry lawsuit. It was written in March 1991. The industry's trade association, warrants top executives from Exxon, Chevron, Dow, DuPont and others that the EPA had recently found pellets to be quote ubiquitous in the environment. Regulation and permits are likely coming, the memo says. Unless they act quickly, it may still be possible to institute voluntary programs to address the pellet issue, it says. Unless this occurs, it is likely EPA will act independently. Then, just four months later, we developed a program that was called Operation Clean Sweep. Lou Freeman was a vice president at the time for the trade association, then called the Society of the Plastics industry. I don't recall any discussions. About quantitatively measuring the success of the program. It was being measured really about who is participating that what the results were, so it was a voluntary program without any metrics. Yeah, I would like to think that they were also doing it because it was the right thing to do. But it also be naive if I didn't think that much of the motivation was was governed by, you know, Keeping the regulators off our back today. The EPA doesn't regulate pellets and in the almost 30 years since, the agency told NPR it has brought just 10 Clean Water Act enforcement cases against facilities accused of spilling pellets. How would anyone really know if pellets were leaking? If you head down to the Gulf of Mexico pellet manufacturers like Chevron Phillips say they're not. I can tell you that. It's not a problem here at Chevron Phillips, we have almost no Let's leaving our sights. Jim Bakker is the vice president of sustainability for Chevron Phillips. He met me in a warehouse after plant officials showed me ponds and drains, they said, catch all of the pellets. You. You've heard a little bit about Operation Clean sweep. We've been practicing that since the company was formed. How do you know that? That you.

Chevron Phillips EPA vice president vice president of plastics Jim Bakker Formosa Chevron Ronnie Hamrick Society of the Plastics indust Steve Russell Lou Freeman American Chemistry Council Mexico Exxon Louisiana South Carolina DuPont NPR
"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on WNYC 93.9 FM

WNYC 93.9 FM

03:49 min | 1 year ago

"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on WNYC 93.9 FM

"Again for signing on the operation Clean Sweep Operation Clean Sweep is a voluntary program the industry came up with in 1991. Companies that joined watch videos and promised to keep pellets from spilling from plant truck ships and rail cars. There's no data required. No numbers, nothing public. The operation Clean sweep is truly making a difference. Together, we can achieve zero pellet flake and proud of us. The industry says it's been a success. Pellet containment is incredibly important to our members. Steve Russell was until recently the vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, which jointly runs the program, Nobody wants plastic in the environment. And if it still happens, and if we're gonna assume it's an accidental release, then it will be reported and remediation steps could be taken. Formosa is an operation Clean sweep member. So I asked to former workers and Ronnie Hamrick about it. I have no idea what you're even talking about. I've never heard it. There's evidence the industry does, in fact, have a pellet problem. Recent spills on beaches in Louisiana in South Carolina and studies show pellets are contaminating oceans, killing birds and fish and carrying toxins through rivers. There's also evidence the industry has known about this problem all along. In 2005, the industry participated in a study of 10 pellet plants. It found pellets washed away in heavy rain at every single facility and called Operation Clean sweep. Inadequate. But even long before that, there's a memo buried inside thousands of documents left over from old industry lawsuits. It was written in March. 1991 Thean Mysteries Trade Association warns top executives from Exxon, Chevron, Dow DuPont and others. But the EPA have recently found pellets to be quote ubiquitous in the environment. Regulation and permits are likely coming, the memo says. Unless they act quickly, it may still be possible to institute voluntary programs to address the pellet issue, it says. Unless this occurs, it is likely EPA will act independently. Then, just four months later, we developed a program that was called Operation Clean Sweep. Lou Freeman was a vice president at the time for the trade association, then called the Society of the Plastics industry. I don't recall any discussions. But quantitatively measuring the success of the program. It was being measured really about who is participating that what the results were, so it was a voluntary program without any metrics. Yeah, I would like to think that they were also doing it because it was the right thing to do. But I'd also be naive if I didn't think that much of the motivation was was governed by, you know. Keeping the regulators off our back today. The EPA doesn't regulate pellets and in the almost 30 years since, the agency told NPR it has brought just 10 Clean Water Act enforcement cases against facilities accused of spilling pellets. How would anyone really know if pellets were leaking? If you head down to the Gulf of Mexico pellet manufacturers like Chevron Phillips say they're not. I can tell you that. It's not a problem here at Chevron Phillips, we have almost no Let's leaving our sights. Jim Bakker is the vice president of sustainability for Chevron Phillips. He met me in a warehouse after plant officials showed me pawns and drains, they said, catch all of the pellets. You've heard a little bit about Operation Clean sweep. We've been practicing that since the company was formed. How do you know that? That you had almost no Hell,.

Chevron Phillips EPA vice president Thean Mysteries Trade Associat vice president of plastics Jim Bakker Formosa Chevron Ronnie Hamrick Steve Russell Society of the Plastics indust Lou Freeman American Chemistry Council Mexico Exxon Louisiana South Carolina Dow DuPont NPR
"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on WNYC 93.9 FM

WNYC 93.9 FM

05:59 min | 1 year ago

"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on WNYC 93.9 FM

"Plastic pellets have been spilling into oceans and rivers. The world over where birds and fish eat them. They are the building blocks of all plastic melts 350 of them. You get a yogurt cup 1000 gets you a water bottle. But an NPR and PBS frontline investigation found the oil and plastic industry has long known there an environmental problem. NPR's Laura Sullivan brings us this story about how the oil in plastic industry evaded regulation. Despite decades of spills. You probably haven't spent a lot of time standing on train tracks looking at your feet. We're looking at the edge of a highway outside of plastic manufacturer. If you did, there's a good chance you'll see them little plastic pellets. This is Kocsis Creek, and we're looking at fresh pellets. It has fallen out of the Terps. Ronnie hammering is standing on state Road 35 in Southeast Texas, rising four square miles. Behind him is the petrochemical plant, Formosa Plastics. And they're not just here. There over there. They're important Lakha. You're gonna find him down the road Hand looks not an anti plastic environmentalist. He's a former supervisor who worked to Formosa for 25 years, And while he worked there, he says he was told to cover up spills of classic pallets. I want you to put down a certain number. You know what I'm saying? They want to keep it love. So So you line so would you like That's my job. That's my bread and butter, so I got to do what they think. I got a family. What's striking about standing outside Formosa and finding pellets? 100 yards from the plant's edge is that last year for most agreed to pay $50 million to settle a lawsuit in which it agreed to zero discharge of pellets. And yet, here they are and down in the creek, where the plant drains thousands more. Ah federal judge called Formosa, a serial offender for most of says it's working to improve its containment systems. But Formosa is just one of thousands of companies that either make or use plastic pellets in the United States. The oil and plastic industry says it doesn't have a problem, Officials told me for most of it was simply a quote bad actor, while leading companies like Exxon and Chevron recently told shareholders that at their dozens of facilities worldwide Either lose, not a single pellet or just two sandwich bags full. And here's how they say they've done it. Thanks again for signing on the operation Clean Sweep Operation Clean Sweep is a voluntary program the industry came up with in 1991. Companies that joined watch videos and promised to keep pellets from spilling from plant truck ships and rail cars. There's no data required. No numbers, nothing public. The operation Clean sweep is truly making a difference. Together, we can achieve zero pellet flake and proud of us. The industry says it's been a success. Pellet containment is incredibly important to our members. Steve Russell was until recently the vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, which jointly runs the program, Nobody wants plastic in the environment. And if it still happens, and if we're gonna assume it's an accidental release, then it will be reported and remediation steps could be taken. Formosa is an operation Clean sweep member. So I asked to former workers and Ronnie Hamrick about it. I have no idea what you're even talking about. I've never heard it. There's evidence the industry does, in fact, have a pellet problem. Recent spills on beaches in Louisiana in South Carolina and studies show pellets are contaminating oceans, killing birds and fish and carrying toxins through rivers. There's also evidence the industry has known about this problem all along. In 2005, the industry participated in a study of 10 pellet plants. It found pellets washed away in heavy rain at every single facility and called Operation Clean sweep. Inadequate. But even long before that, there's a memo buried inside thousands of documents left over from old industry lawsuits. It was written in March. 1991 Thean Mysteries Trade Association warns top executives from Exxon, Chevron, Dow DuPont and others. But the EPA have recently found pellets to be quote ubiquitous in the environment. Regulation and permits are likely coming, the memo says. Unless they act quickly, it may still be possible to institute voluntary programs to address the pellet issue, it says. Unless this occurs, it is likely EPA will act independently. Then, just four months later, we developed a program that was called Operation Clean Sweep. Lou Freeman was a vice president at the time for the trade association, then called the Society of the Plastics industry. I don't recall any discussions. But quantitatively measuring the success of the program. It was being measured really about who is participating that what the results were, so it was a voluntary program without any metrics. Yeah, I would like to think that they were also doing it because it was the right thing to do. But I'd also be naive if I didn't think that much of the motivation was was governed by, you know. Keeping the regulators off our back today. The EPA doesn't regulate pellets and in the almost 30 years since, the agency told NPR it has brought just 10 Clean Water Act enforcement cases against facilities accused of spilling pellets. How would anyone really know if pellets were leaking? If you head down to the Gulf of Mexico pellet manufacturers like Chevron Phillips say they're not. I can tell you that. It's not a problem here at Chevron Phillips, we have almost no Let's leaving our sights. Jim Bakker is the

NPR Ari Shapiro Mary Louise Kelly Ronnie hammering Kocsis Creek Laura Sullivan Terps
Big Oil Evaded Regulation And Plastic Pellets Kept Spilling

All Things Considered

05:59 min | 1 year ago

Big Oil Evaded Regulation And Plastic Pellets Kept Spilling

"Plastic pellets have been spilling into oceans and rivers. The world over where birds and fish eat them. They are the building blocks of all plastic melts 350 of them. You get a yogurt cup 1000 gets you a water bottle. But an NPR and PBS frontline investigation found the oil and plastic industry has long known there an environmental problem. NPR's Laura Sullivan brings us this story about how the oil in plastic industry evaded regulation. Despite decades of spills. You probably haven't spent a lot of time standing on train tracks looking at your feet. We're looking at the edge of a highway outside of plastic manufacturer. If you did, there's a good chance you'll see them little plastic pellets. This is Kocsis Creek, and we're looking at fresh pellets. It has fallen out of the Terps. Ronnie hammering is standing on state Road 35 in Southeast Texas, rising four square miles. Behind him is the petrochemical plant, Formosa Plastics. And they're not just here. There over there. They're important Lakha. You're gonna find him down the road Hand looks not an anti plastic environmentalist. He's a former supervisor who worked to Formosa for 25 years, And while he worked there, he says he was told to cover up spills of classic pallets. I want you to put down a certain number. You know what I'm saying? They want to keep it love. So So you line so would you like That's my job. That's my bread and butter, so I got to do what they think. I got a family. What's striking about standing outside Formosa and finding pellets? 100 yards from the plant's edge is that last year for most agreed to pay $50 million to settle a lawsuit in which it agreed to zero discharge of pellets. And yet, here they are and down in the creek, where the plant drains thousands more. Ah federal judge called Formosa, a serial offender for most of says it's working to improve its containment systems. But Formosa is just one of thousands of companies that either make or use plastic pellets in the United States. The oil and plastic industry says it doesn't have a problem, Officials told me for most of it was simply a quote bad actor, while leading companies like Exxon and Chevron recently told shareholders that at their dozens of facilities worldwide Either lose, not a single pellet or just two sandwich bags full. And here's how they say they've done it. Thanks again for signing on the operation Clean Sweep Operation Clean Sweep is a voluntary program the industry came up with in 1991. Companies that joined watch videos and promised to keep pellets from spilling from plant truck ships and rail cars. There's no data required. No numbers, nothing public. The operation Clean sweep is truly making a difference. Together, we can achieve zero pellet flake and proud of us. The industry says it's been a success. Pellet containment is incredibly important to our members. Steve Russell was until recently the vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, which jointly runs the program, Nobody wants plastic in the environment. And if it still happens, and if we're gonna assume it's an accidental release, then it will be reported and remediation steps could be taken. Formosa is an operation Clean sweep member. So I asked to former workers and Ronnie Hamrick about it. I have no idea what you're even talking about. I've never heard it. There's evidence the industry does, in fact, have a pellet problem. Recent spills on beaches in Louisiana in South Carolina and studies show pellets are contaminating oceans, killing birds and fish and carrying toxins through rivers. There's also evidence the industry has known about this problem all along. In 2005, the industry participated in a study of 10 pellet plants. It found pellets washed away in heavy rain at every single facility and called Operation Clean sweep. Inadequate. But even long before that, there's a memo buried inside thousands of documents left over from old industry lawsuits. It was written in March. 1991 Thean Mysteries Trade Association warns top executives from Exxon, Chevron, Dow DuPont and others. But the EPA have recently found pellets to be quote ubiquitous in the environment. Regulation and permits are likely coming, the memo says. Unless they act quickly, it may still be possible to institute voluntary programs to address the pellet issue, it says. Unless this occurs, it is likely EPA will act independently. Then, just four months later, we developed a program that was called Operation Clean Sweep. Lou Freeman was a vice president at the time for the trade association, then called the Society of the Plastics industry. I don't recall any discussions. But quantitatively measuring the success of the program. It was being measured really about who is participating that what the results were, so it was a voluntary program without any metrics. Yeah, I would like to think that they were also doing it because it was the right thing to do. But I'd also be naive if I didn't think that much of the motivation was was governed by, you know. Keeping the regulators off our back today. The EPA doesn't regulate pellets and in the almost 30 years since, the agency told NPR it has brought just 10 Clean Water Act enforcement cases against facilities accused of spilling pellets. How would anyone really know if pellets were leaking? If you head down to the Gulf of Mexico pellet manufacturers like Chevron Phillips say they're not. I can tell you that. It's not a problem here at Chevron Phillips, we have almost no Let's leaving our sights. Jim Bakker is the

Formosa Laura Sullivan NPR Kocsis Creek Formosa Plastics Lakha Terps Exxon PBS Chevron Ronnie Hamrick Ronnie Steve Russell American Chemistry Council Thean Mysteries Trade Associat Dow Dupont
Big Oil Evaded Regulation And Plastic Pellets Kept Spilling

Environment: NPR

08:11 min | 1 year ago

Big Oil Evaded Regulation And Plastic Pellets Kept Spilling

"Of tiny plastic pellets have been spilling into oceans and rivers the world over where birds and fish eat them. They are the building blocks of all plastic melts. Three hundred fifty of them. You get a yogurt cup thousand. Get you a water bottle. But an npr pbs frontline investigation found. The oil and plastic industry has long known there an environmental problem. Npr's laura sullivan brings us this story. About how the oil and plastic industry evaded regulation despite decades spills. You probably haven't spent a lot of time standing on train tracks looking at your feet or looking at the edge of a highway outside a plastic manufacturer. But if you did. There's a good chance you'll see them little plastic pellets. This is kocsis creek. In looking at fresh pellets that has fallen out of the turks. Ronnie hammer is standing on state road. Thirty five in southeast texas rising four square miles behind him as the petrochemical plant formosa plastics. There're not just here. They're over there. They're in portable alaka. You're gonna find them down the road not an anti plastic environmentalist. He's a former supervisor. Who worked at formosa for twenty five years. And while he worked there he says he was told to cover up spills of plastic pellets. I won't do to put down the phone number. You know what i'm saying. They want to keep it low. So so you lie. That's my job. This britain butter so i got to do what they say. You got a family. What's striking about standing outside formosa and finding pellets. A hundred yards from the plants edge. Is that last year. Formosa agreed to pay fifty million dollars to settle a lawsuit in which it agreed to zero discharge of pellets. And yet here they are and down in the creek where the plant drains thousands more a federal judge called formosa a serial offender. Formosa says it's working to improve its containment systems but formosa is just one of thousands of companies that either make or use plastic pellets in the united states. The oil and plastic industry says it doesn't have a problem. Officials told me formosa was simply a quote bad actor while leading companies like exxon and chevron recently told shareholders that their dozens of facilities worldwide the either lose not a single pellet or just to sandwich bags full. And here's how they say they've done thanks again for signing onto operation operation. Clean sweep is a voluntary program. The industry came up with in nineteen ninety-one companies that join watch videos and promised to keep pellets from spilling plants trucks ships and railcars. There's no data required no numbers nothing public. The operation clean sweep is truly making a difference together. We can achieve zero pellet flake and powder the industry says it's been a success. Pellet containment is incredibly important to our members. Steve russell was until recently the vice president of plastics. For the american chemistry council jointly runs the program. Nobody wants plastic in the environment. And if a spill happens and if we're gonna assume it's an accidental release then it will be reported and remediation steps can be taken for most. Isn't clean sweep member. So i asked to former workers an ronnie hammer about it. I have no idea what jeevan talking about. I've never heard of. There's evidence the industry does in fact have appellate problem recent spills on beaches in louisiana and south carolina and studies show pellets are contaminating killing birds and fish and carrying toxins through rivers. There's no evidence. The industry has known about this problem. All along in two thousand five industry participated in a study of ten pellet plance it found pellet washed away in heavy rain at every single facility and called operation clean sweep inadequate but even long before that there's a memo buried inside thousands of documents. Leftover from old industry lawsuits. It was written in march. Nineteen ninety-one the industry's trade association warns top executives from chevron dow dupont and others that the epa had recently found pellets to be quote ubiquitous in the environment regulation. Permits are likely coming. The memo says unless act quickly it may still be possible to institute voluntary programs to address the pellet issue it says unless this occurs. It is likely. Epa will act independently then just four months later. We developed a program that was called operation. Clean sweep lou. Freeman was a vice president at the time for the trade association then called the society of the plastics industry. I don't recall any discussions about quantitatively measuring the success of the program. It was being measured really about who is participating not what the results were. So is a voluntary program. Yes without any metrics. Yeah i would like to think that they were also doing it because it was the right thing to do. But it also be naive. If i didn't think that much of the motivation was was governed by keeping the regulators offer back today the epa doesn't regulate pellets and in the almost thirty years since the agency told npr. It has brought just ten clean water act enforcement cases against facilities accused of spilling pellets. But how would anyone really know if pellets wurley if you head down to the gulf of mexico pellet manufacturers like chevron phillips say they're not I can tell you that it's not a problem here. At chevron phillips we have almost no kellett's leaving our sites. Jim becker is the vice president of sustainability for chevron phillips he met me in a warehouse after plant officials showed me ponds and drains. They said catch all the pellets. You've heard a little bit about operation. Clean sweep we've been practicing that Since the company was formed having no that that you had almost no hell it's leaving your site. I feel i feel confident. We have multiple layers of protection to prevent that without any data. It's hard to know. But then you could go look hacksaw some and if you're gonna hunt pellets a mile up texas bite. You're gonna wanna bring diane wilson the woman who tracked formosa's leaking pellets for five years.

Laura Sullivan Kocsis Creek Ronnie Hammer Formosa NPR Steve Russell Chevron Phillips Chevron Dow Dupont American Chemistry Council Exxon Chevron Jeevan Britain Trade Association Texas
"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on KQED Radio

KQED Radio

02:48 min | 1 year ago

"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on KQED Radio

"And welcome to planet money. I'm Sara Ellis and I'm Laura Sullivan. Laura is one of NPR's incredible investigative reporters and today on the show, Laura set out with the support of PBS Frontline to find out Who is responsible for this great plastic live and what I found was a paper trail crinkled of documents that apparently did not get recycled long for gotten old boxes, and the trail leads well, believe store guy named Larry. Support for NPR comes from this station and from at Lassen, makers of collaboration software like Kira and Trail 0 83% of Fortune 500 companies use that last year. Help team stay Agile, aligned and connected. Learn more at lassen dot com. So how did millions of Americans come to believe that most plastic would be recycled when that's not actually true? Laura Sullivan is going to take the story from here. OK, it seemed like a good place to start was the plastic industry. They make the stuff did they know the truth about recycling plastic? I headed to one of the birthplaces of plastic plastic comes from oil. But really a lot of it comes from the DuPont chemical Company and some of the plastic industries. Old records are housed in the haggling library. It's this stone building on the grounds of the first DuPont family home in Delaware. This is a place that actually used to store sodium nitrate back when DuPont made gunpowder, not plastic. Is an archivist with a bow tie and a handlebar mustache named Lucas Clawson, and he looks like someone who would make cocktails, Lucas wheeled out a cart of boxes. Thank you Miles that document to the discovery of a chemical marvel that changed the world a product that look like glass but didn't break a product that could also look like lightweight fluff. But keep things hot called Styrofoam and an incredible new film that could preserve food for days called Saran Wrap. There were a couple clues about recycling. Inside the box is from the industry's most powerful lobby group. At the time, the society of the plastics industry, their job was to lobby for the big oil and plastic companies. So think Exxon, Chevron Dow DuPont And there's this one memo from 1973. The environmental movement is just being born and one of the top people in the plastics industry is talking about how the cost of sorting plastic Is high. But it seemed like a lot of the documents were were missing. I find a reference to a memo of a report. But then I noticed that someone had drawn a line through it. Commence.

Laura Sullivan DuPont chemical Company DuPont Lucas Clawson NPR Chevron Dow DuPont Sara Ellis Saran Wrap sodium nitrate Delaware Larry Kira Exxon Miles
"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on Planet Money

Planet Money

11:28 min | 1 year ago

"chevron dow dupont" Discussed on Planet Money

"How did millions of Americans come to believe that most plastic would be recycled when that's not actually true Laura Sullivan is GonNa take the story from here. . Okay, , it seemed like a good place to start was the plastic industry they make the stuff. . Did they know the truth about recycling plastic? ? I headed to one of the birthplaces of plastic plastic comes from oil. . But really comes from the dupont chemical company and some of the plastic industries old records are housed in the Hagley Library. . It's this stone building on the grounds of the first dupont family home in Delaware. . This is a place that actually used to store sodium nitrate back when Dupont made gunpowder not plastic. . There's an archivist with a bow tie a handlebar moustache named Lucas Clawson, , and he looks like someone would make cocktails. . Lucas wheeled out a cart of boxes. . Thank you. . Files that documented the discovery of a chemical marvel that changed the world, , a product that looked like glass but break a product that could also look like lightweight fluff but keep things hot called Styrofoam and incredible new film that can preserve food for days called. . Saran. . Wrap there were a couple of clues about recycling inside the boxes from the industry's most powerful lobby group at the time the Society of the plastics industry their job was to lobby for the big oil and plastic companies. . So think Exxon Chevron Dow Dupont. . And there's this one memo from one, , thousand, , nine, , hundred, , seventy, , three, , the. . Movement is just being born, , and one of the top people in the plastics industry is talking about how the cost of sorting plastic is high but it seemed like a lot of the documents were were missing I find reference to a memo a report, , but then I noticed that someone had drawn a line through it Lucas. . Can I ask you a question absolute. . Okay. . Why? ? In this section are all. . These APPS. . So many of these. . Cross out because those records are no longer. . Here anymore day or not where did they go the society of the Plastics Industry Astra them back think they really yes is an unusual. . That doesn't happen often. . Do you do know <hes> why they took them. . Did they say? ? I, do , not know. . Okay Of course, , there are all kinds of reasons why an industry lobbying group might want. . It's records back I did call society the plastic folks and ask them if I could see the records they took they said No. . So I headed to another library this time at Syracuse University and they're buried in its tax, , our boxes of files donated from an industry consultant. . Actually the industry consultant died in the why found the boxes and gave them to Syracuse and inside these boxes. . I found what I was looking for a report was sent to top oil and plastic executives in nineteen seventy three. . It says, , recycling plastic is nearly impossible. . There is no recovery from obsolete products. . It says recycling is costly sorting. . It is infeasible plus it says plastic degrades every time you try to reuse it. . So the oil in plastic industry new, , they've known for almost fifty years. . and. . Then I found more confidential memos in meetings echoed decades of this knowledge insight thousands of pages of courtroom discovery. . There's a speech from an industry insider in nineteen seventy four when it comes to recycling large quantities plastic, , it says there is quote serious doubt that it can ever be made viable on an economic basis. . Now. . Okay. . Sure. . Anyone can take something plastic melted down and make something else. . But what these documents are saying is that it's expensive, , it's time consuming it's chemically problematic and it's just cheaper and easier to make plastic out of new oil instead of plastic trash there are all kinds of names in these documents men who have never spoken publicly before and there was one name I kept seeing over and over he. . was, , giving speeches at fancy hotels, , hosting conferences and Berlin. . Phoenix, , they called him a bigwig. . He was the industry's top lobbyist. . Larry Thomas this is the man I had to find but do you know how many Larry Thomas's there are in the United? States. ? . Thousands I'd call say are you the Larry Thomas used to work in plastics? ? Are you leery Thomas who used to be president of the Society of the plastics industry? ? And then finally, , I'll prompt Merrin the plastics industry no getting around it the BIGWIG himself I'll walk. . Do that's for sure. . Yeah. . My personal views certainly didn't always job with. . US I had the quake as part of my job. . That's the way it was there. . He's retired now on the coast of Florida but I told him I've been reading all about his exploits in the world of plastic. . Where would the offices the officers were? ? What would you think they would be K. Street yes. . Twenty Five K. Street Casey was the heart of lobbying in Washington and it was in those offices at top executives in the world's most powerful oil and plastic companies met they had meeting after meeting about a little problem they were having there was just too much plastic trash consumers didn't like it. . In one of the documents I found from nineteen nine, , hundred nine Larry wrote the top oil executives at Exxon Chevron, , Amoco Dow Dupont proctor, , and gamble in a bunch of others he wrote the image of plastics is deteriorating at an alarming rate. . We are approaching a point of no return. . The classic. . I was under fire. . We gotta do. . What it takes to take the heat off. . Because we want to continue to make classic equality, , they wanted to keep making plastic but the more you make the more plastic trash you get and the obvious solution to this is to recycle it but they knew they couldn't remember it's expensive. . It's a great. . Discussion about how difficult it was to recycle. . They knew that the infrastructure wasn't there. . So really have recycling amount to a whole lot. . So they needed a different plan. . Larry Decides to call a bunch of meetings at fancy hotels. . He summons the Society of the plastics people executives Larry doesn't remember the specifics of each particular meeting but one of his deputies at the time Lou Freeman he remembers you could. . Get. . Back all the layers of my brain. . Lou, , remembers a bunch of meetings the basic question on the table was. . You guys you're our trade association in the plastics industry aren't doing enough. . We need to do more. . This one dupont executive was telling Lou. . It's your job to fix plastics imaging problem. . So what do you need? ? You said, , I think if we had five million dollars. . which seemed like a lot of money. . If we had five million dollars we could. . We could. . We could solve this problem. . And My boss said in response. If . you add five million dollars, , you would know how to spend it effectively. . Well, , they came up with a way to spend five million dollars that and a lot more I. . Remember this. . This is one of these exchanges that sticks with me thirty five years later however long it's been. . Anna was <hes>. . You know what we need to do is advertise our way out of it. . That was the idea thrown out. . The industry decided to advertise its way out of a can't recycle it problem. . The possibilities off plastics plastics. . From dense. . Touted the benefits of a product that after it was used for the most part was headed to a landfill incinerator or even ocean. . Look empty yet it's anything but trash it's full of potential. . These commercials carried an environmentalist message, , but they were paid for by the oil and plastic companies eventually leading to fifteen million dollars a year industrywide ad campaign promoting plastic. . So I asked Larry why why spend tens of millions of dollars telling people to recycle plastic when the new recycling plastic wasn't going to work? ? and. That's . when he said it. . The point of the whole thing if the public thinks so recycling is working. . Then they're not going to be concerned about the environment and if they're not concerned about the environment. . Though keep buying plastic it wasn't just Larry in lieu who said this I spoke to half a dozen top guys involved in the industry at the time who all said plan was unfolding and it went beyond at the industry funded recycling projects and local neighborhoods expensive sorting machines that didn't make any economic sense school recycling contests. . All of this was done with great fanfare. . except I decided to go track down almost a dozen of the industry's biggest projects like the one where they were going to recycle plastic and national parks or the one that was going to recycle all the plastic and school lunches in New York they all failed and disappeared quietly but there was one more part of this campaign, , the final piece that did stick around. . That recycling symbol with the numbers in the middle this symbol has. . So. . Much confusion about what is and is not recyclable in the plan to stamp it on every plastic item popped up a lot in the documents I learned of a quiet campaign to lobby almost forty states to require that every single plastic item have this symbol stamped on it. . Even if there was no way to economically recycle it, , I should note that some. . Environmental is also supported. . The symbol thinking would help, , separate and sort plastic but the industry knew the truth the symbols were causing problems. . Warm report told executives in July nineteen ninety-three that the symbol is being misused. . It's creating quote unrealistic expectations about what plastic people can recycle. . It's being used as a green marketing tool, , but the executives decided to keep the symbol anyway. . I did reach out to plastic industry folks and they said that the symbols were only meant to help sort plastic and that they were not intended to confuse people but the symbol in the ads in the projects, , all of this basically convince people Larry says the idea that the vast majority of plastic can be recycled was sinking in. . Say that. . After a while the atmosphere seems to change I. . Don't know whether it was because people thought that recycling has solved the problem. . was that they were just so in love with plastic products that they were willing to overlook the environmental concerns that were were mounting up. . It's been thirty years now since most of those plans have been put into place and the public's feelings about plastic have started to shift again, , people are reading stories about oceans choked with plastic trash and trace amounts of this stuff inside our bodies, , and once again, , people are wanting to ban plastic and the survival of the oil companies is at stake. .

NPR Smith San Diego Koi
How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled

Planet Money

11:28 min | 1 year ago

How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled

"How did millions of Americans come to believe that most plastic would be recycled when that's not actually true Laura Sullivan is GonNa take the story from here. Okay, it seemed like a good place to start was the plastic industry they make the stuff. Did they know the truth about recycling plastic? I headed to one of the birthplaces of plastic plastic comes from oil. But really comes from the dupont chemical company and some of the plastic industries old records are housed in the Hagley Library. It's this stone building on the grounds of the first dupont family home in Delaware. This is a place that actually used to store sodium nitrate back when Dupont made gunpowder not plastic. There's an archivist with a bow tie a handlebar moustache named Lucas Clawson, and he looks like someone would make cocktails. Lucas wheeled out a cart of boxes. Thank you. Files that documented the discovery of a chemical marvel that changed the world, a product that looked like glass but break a product that could also look like lightweight fluff but keep things hot called Styrofoam and incredible new film that can preserve food for days called. Saran. Wrap there were a couple of clues about recycling inside the boxes from the industry's most powerful lobby group at the time the Society of the plastics industry their job was to lobby for the big oil and plastic companies. So think Exxon Chevron Dow Dupont. And there's this one memo from one, thousand, nine, hundred, seventy, three, the. Movement is just being born, and one of the top people in the plastics industry is talking about how the cost of sorting plastic is high but it seemed like a lot of the documents were were missing I find reference to a memo a report, but then I noticed that someone had drawn a line through it Lucas. Can I ask you a question absolute. Okay. Why? In this section are all. These APPS. So many of these. Cross out because those records are no longer. Here anymore day or not where did they go the society of the Plastics Industry Astra them back think they really yes is an unusual. That doesn't happen often. Do you do know why they took them. Did they say? I, do not know. Okay Of course, there are all kinds of reasons why an industry lobbying group might want. It's records back I did call society the plastic folks and ask them if I could see the records they took they said No. So I headed to another library this time at Syracuse University and they're buried in its tax, our boxes of files donated from an industry consultant. Actually the industry consultant died in the why found the boxes and gave them to Syracuse and inside these boxes. I found what I was looking for a report was sent to top oil and plastic executives in nineteen seventy three. It says, recycling plastic is nearly impossible. There is no recovery from obsolete products. It says recycling is costly sorting. It is infeasible plus it says plastic degrades every time you try to reuse it. So the oil in plastic industry new, they've known for almost fifty years. and. Then I found more confidential memos in meetings echoed decades of this knowledge insight thousands of pages of courtroom discovery. There's a speech from an industry insider in nineteen seventy four when it comes to recycling large quantities plastic, it says there is quote serious doubt that it can ever be made viable on an economic basis. Now. Okay. Sure. Anyone can take something plastic melted down and make something else. But what these documents are saying is that it's expensive, it's time consuming it's chemically problematic and it's just cheaper and easier to make plastic out of new oil instead of plastic trash there are all kinds of names in these documents men who have never spoken publicly before and there was one name I kept seeing over and over he. was, giving speeches at fancy hotels, hosting conferences and Berlin. Phoenix, they called him a bigwig. He was the industry's top lobbyist. Larry Thomas this is the man I had to find but do you know how many Larry Thomas's there are in the United? States. Thousands I'd call say are you the Larry Thomas used to work in plastics? Are you leery Thomas who used to be president of the Society of the plastics industry? And then finally, I'll prompt Merrin the plastics industry no getting around it the BIGWIG himself I'll walk. Do that's for sure. Yeah. My personal views certainly didn't always job with. US I had the quake as part of my job. That's the way it was there. He's retired now on the coast of Florida but I told him I've been reading all about his exploits in the world of plastic. Where would the offices the officers were? What would you think they would be K. Street yes. Twenty Five K. Street Casey was the heart of lobbying in Washington and it was in those offices at top executives in the world's most powerful oil and plastic companies met they had meeting after meeting about a little problem they were having there was just too much plastic trash consumers didn't like it. In one of the documents I found from nineteen nine, hundred nine Larry wrote the top oil executives at Exxon Chevron, Amoco Dow Dupont proctor, and gamble in a bunch of others he wrote the image of plastics is deteriorating at an alarming rate. We are approaching a point of no return. The classic. I was under fire. We gotta do. What it takes to take the heat off. Because we want to continue to make classic equality, they wanted to keep making plastic but the more you make the more plastic trash you get and the obvious solution to this is to recycle it but they knew they couldn't remember it's expensive. It's a great. Discussion about how difficult it was to recycle. They knew that the infrastructure wasn't there. So really have recycling amount to a whole lot. So they needed a different plan. Larry Decides to call a bunch of meetings at fancy hotels. He summons the Society of the plastics people executives Larry doesn't remember the specifics of each particular meeting but one of his deputies at the time Lou Freeman he remembers you could. Get. Back all the layers of my brain. Lou, remembers a bunch of meetings the basic question on the table was. You guys you're our trade association in the plastics industry aren't doing enough. We need to do more. This one dupont executive was telling Lou. It's your job to fix plastics imaging problem. So what do you need? You said, I think if we had five million dollars. which seemed like a lot of money. If we had five million dollars we could. We could. We could solve this problem. And My boss said in response. If you add five million dollars, you would know how to spend it effectively. Well, they came up with a way to spend five million dollars that and a lot more I. Remember this. This is one of these exchanges that sticks with me thirty five years later however long it's been. Anna was You know what we need to do is advertise our way out of it. That was the idea thrown out. The industry decided to advertise its way out of a can't recycle it problem. The possibilities off plastics plastics. From dense. Touted the benefits of a product that after it was used for the most part was headed to a landfill incinerator or even ocean. Look empty yet it's anything but trash it's full of potential. These commercials carried an environmentalist message, but they were paid for by the oil and plastic companies eventually leading to fifteen million dollars a year industrywide ad campaign promoting plastic. So I asked Larry why why spend tens of millions of dollars telling people to recycle plastic when the new recycling plastic wasn't going to work? and. That's when he said it. The point of the whole thing if the public thinks so recycling is working. Then they're not going to be concerned about the environment and if they're not concerned about the environment. Though keep buying plastic it wasn't just Larry in lieu who said this I spoke to half a dozen top guys involved in the industry at the time who all said plan was unfolding and it went beyond at the industry funded recycling projects and local neighborhoods expensive sorting machines that didn't make any economic sense school recycling contests. All of this was done with great fanfare. except I decided to go track down almost a dozen of the industry's biggest projects like the one where they were going to recycle plastic and national parks or the one that was going to recycle all the plastic and school lunches in New York they all failed and disappeared quietly but there was one more part of this campaign, the final piece that did stick around. That recycling symbol with the numbers in the middle this symbol has. So. Much confusion about what is and is not recyclable in the plan to stamp it on every plastic item popped up a lot in the documents I learned of a quiet campaign to lobby almost forty states to require that every single plastic item have this symbol stamped on it. Even if there was no way to economically recycle it, I should note that some. Environmental is also supported. The symbol thinking would help, separate and sort plastic but the industry knew the truth the symbols were causing problems. Warm report told executives in July nineteen ninety-three that the symbol is being misused. It's creating quote unrealistic expectations about what plastic people can recycle. It's being used as a green marketing tool, but the executives decided to keep the symbol anyway. I did reach out to plastic industry folks and they said that the symbols were only meant to help sort plastic and that they were not intended to confuse people but the symbol in the ads in the projects, all of this basically convince people Larry says the idea that the vast majority of plastic can be recycled was sinking in. Say that. After a while the atmosphere seems to change I. Don't know whether it was because people thought that recycling has solved the problem. was that they were just so in love with plastic products that they were willing to overlook the environmental concerns that were were mounting up. It's been thirty years now since most of those plans have been put into place and the public's feelings about plastic have started to shift again, people are reading stories about oceans choked with plastic trash and trace amounts of this stuff inside our bodies, and once again, people are wanting to ban plastic and the survival of the oil companies is at stake.

Larry Thomas Lucas Clawson Society Of Dupont Chemical Company Lou Freeman Dupont Laura Sullivan Sodium Nitrate Delaware Hagley Library Chevron Dow Dupont Exxon Syracuse University Phoenix Syracuse Consultant Berlin