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20 companies behind more than half of global plastic waste, report says

Tuesday's report said single-use plastics account for the majority of plastic thrown away the world over: more than 130 million metric tons in 2019. File Photo by Pixabay/meineresterampe
Tuesday's report said single-use plastics "account for the majority of plastic thrown away the world over: more than 130 million metric tons in 2019. File Photo by Pixabay/meineresterampe

May 18 (UPI) -- According to an analysis Tuesday, a group of 20 companies are responsible for producing more than half of the world's single-use plastic waste that's helped accelerate the climate crisis and global pollution.

The Plastics Waste Makers index, created by the nonprofit Minderoo Foundation, said the companies produce a range of products, like face masks that have become mandatory during the COVID-19 pandemic, plastic shopping bags, water bottles and other items that are polluting oceans.

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Tuesday's report said single-use plastics "account for the majority of plastic thrown away the world over: more than 130 million metric tons in 2019 -- almost all of which is burned, buried in landfill, or discarded directly into the environment."

"Of all the plastics, they are the most likely to end up in our ocean, where they account for almost all visible pollution, in the range of five to 13 million metric tons each year," the report states.

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U.S.-based ExxonMobil and Dow and Chinese oil and gas company Sinopec are the ones producing the most single-use plastics. The study says those three companies alone account for 16% of all single-use plastic waste.

Other top producers of single-use plastics, according to the index, are Indorama Ventures, Saudi Aramco, PetroChina, LyondellBasell, Reliance Industries, Braskem and Alpek SA de CV.

Also on the list are Phillips 66 (No. 23), Chevron (27), Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (31), Shell (51) and Petronas (83).

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"Of approximately 300 polymer producers operating globally, a small fraction holds the fate of the world's plastics crisis in their hands," it says.

"Their choice to continue to produce virgin polymers, rather than recycled polymers, will have massive repercussions on how much waste is collected, is managed and leaks into the environment."

The report also blames investors and banks like the VanguardGroup, BlackRock and Capital Group for enabling companies by holding more than $300 billion in shares in their parent companies.

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Tuesday's analysis calls for governments and world leaders to create policies encouraging the use of recyclable plastics, identify financial supporters of single-use plastic creators and seek laws that would penalize those who don't mitigate the waste.

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