Companies are claiming to be 'plastic neutral.' Is it greenwashing?
Joseph Winters reports for Grist that plastic credits can help fund waste cleanup, but may also justify making more plastic.
In a nutshell:
Companies are increasingly embracing the concept of "plastic neutrality" by purchasing plastic credits. Each credit represents a metric ton of plastic waste removed from the environment. This trend is seen across various industries, from Burt's Bees to Nestlé, as they aim to offset their plastic footprints and fund waste collection in developing regions, writes Winters. However, skepticism exists regarding whether plastic credits truly offset the environmental impacts of plastic production and use. Critics argue that these credits may prioritize managing over reducing plastic pollution, serving as a way for companies to improve their image without addressing the root issue of excessive plastic production.
"Frankly, it's all greenwashing," said Kevin Budris, advocacy director for the nonprofit Just Zero. "The only real solution to the full suite of plastic pollution problems is to stop making so much plastic in the first place."
The big picture:
Critics argue that excessive plastic production undermines the effectiveness of cleanup initiatives and perpetuates the petrochemical industry's interests in maintaining plastic dependence. Throughout the plastic life cycle, from manufacturing to disposal, pollution and toxic chemical release can disproportionately affect marginalized communities. Excessive plastic production exacerbates plastic pollution, which poses threats to aquatic and marine ecosystems, among others. Moreover, petrochemical companies, heavily invested in plastic production, may hinder efforts to cap or reduce plastic manufacturing, perpetuating environmental and health risks.
Read the article in Grist.
Did you know that less than 10% of plastic is recycled? Check out EHN's plastic pollution guide to learn more. For a deeper understanding of the plastic lifecycle and its impacts, read Kristina Marusic's compelling in-depth piece, The Titans of Plastic.