Centre for Climate Integrity Exposes Decades of Plastic Recycling Misinformation

The on-going narrative on plastic recycling has misled consumers and hindered environmental progress.

A recent examination by the Centre for Climate Integrity has brought to light startling revelations about the plastics industry’s longstanding misinformation regarding plastic recycling. According to the report titled “The Fraud of Plastic Recycling”, internal documents dating back to the 1970s have revealed that industry insiders were well aware that recycling plastic was not a viable solution to waste management. These documents express significant doubt about the economic feasibility of plastic recycling, contradicting the industry’s aggressive promotion of recycling as a cure-all for plastic pollution.

The misleading promotion of recycling

The report accuses petrochemical companies of deliberately promoting recycling through marketing and educational campaigns to create a misleading narrative. This strategy aimed to convince the public that plastic pollution was being effectively managed and that there was no looming threat from the continued use of plastics.

A call for real solutions beyond recycling

Michael Stephen, Executive Director at Symphony Environmental Technologies, criticized the industry’s reliance on recycling, “Manufacturers have not listened, continuing to place their faith in recycling.” He argued that the real issue lies in managing plastics that end up in oceans and other parts of the environment, where they cannot be feasibly collected for recycling. 

“Some recyclers have been persuaded against oxo-biodegradable technology to their detriment, as due to anti-plastic campaigning there is reduced demand for their recyclate and reduced supplies of plastic for their feedstock. Essentially, they are scoring an own goal, and production lines in the plastics industry, and even whole factories, are closing,” he added.

Advocating for biodegradable technologies

Stephen advocates for the adoption of biodegradable technology, such as biodegradable masterbatch, which allows plastics to degrade more quickly and not persist in the environment. He pointed out that resistance to this technology, especially from recyclers who have been misguided about its impact on the recycling process, is detrimental to the industry. 

Stephen calls for increased awareness of the limitations of recycling and a greater openness to eco-friendly alternatives like d2w plastic, which can be recycled without needing separation from post-consumer waste.

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