California probes ‘Big Oil’ over plastic pollution
California launched a sweeping investigation on April 28 into plastic pollution by major oil companies, in a probe it says will look at whether fossil fuel giants have been lying about the problem for decades.
As part of the wide-ranging probe, the state’s attorney general hit ExxonMobil with a subpoena with the aim of uncovering its role in an alleged cover-up.
“Enough is enough. For more than half a century, the plastics industry has engaged in an aggressive campaign to deceive the public, perpetuating a myth that recycling can solve the plastics crisis,” said Rob Bonta, the U.S. state’s top lawyer.
“The truth is: The vast majority of plastic cannot be recycled, and the recycling rate has never surpassed 9 percent.”
The remainder is buried in landfill, burned, or littered in the environment.
From there it breaks down into micro-plastics that are too small to be seen by the naked eye.
“Every week, we consume the equivalent of a credit card’s worth of plastic through the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe.
“This first-of-its-kind investigation will examine the fossil fuel industry’s role in creating and exacerbating the plastics pollution crisis, and what laws, if any, have been broken in the process.”
The attorney general’s office said recent reporting showed fossil fuel and petrochemical companies, which produce plastics, knew in the 1970s that recycling was not feasible and could never be economic, but that the industry pressed on with the manufacture of the materials.