"Five, 10 years ago, the industry response was a little more combative. Plastics people — brace yourselves. Despite this, three former top officials, who have never spoken publicly before, said the industry promoted recycling as a way to beat back a growing tide of antipathy toward plastic in the 1980s and ’90s. Efforts to reduce plastic consumption are mounting nationwide, but any plan to slow the growth of plastic will face an industry with billions of dollars of future profits at stake. We’ve got to do a better job collecting the waste, sorting it,” says Jim Becker, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.’s vice president of sustainability. . Recycling, the former officials told NPR and Frontline, became a way to preempt the bans and sell more plastic. Another top official, Larry Thomas, who led SPI for more than a decade until 2000, says the strategy to push recycling was simple: “The feeling was the plastics industry was under fire, we got to do what it takes to take the heat off, because we want to continue to make plastic products,” Thomas says. A report sent to top industry executives in April 1973 called recycling plastic "costly" and "difficult." If Biden becomes president, will he be able to roll back Trump’s climate-policy rollbacks? Copyright © 2020. Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically. Lizzie Fletcher Looks To Hold On To 7th Congressional Seat In Tight Race With Wesley Hunt, Voters Have 2 Very Different Choices For Texas’ Next Oil And Gas Regulator, Early Voting Has Begun In Harris County. . Here are our key takeaways from our investigation: Plastics industry had "serious doubt" recycling would ever be viable. The vast majority of plastic can't be or won't be recycled. StateImpact Pennsylvania is a collaboration among WITF, WHYY, WPSU, and The Allegheny Front. For decades, Americans have been sorting their trash believing that most plastic could be recycled. We want to solve this.”. The Pennsylvania Guide to Hydraulic Fracturing, or 'Fracking', DEP: The Department That Regulates and Oversees Drilling, Mariner East: A pipeline project plagued by mishaps and delays, Pipelines: The new battleground over fracking. Copyright 2020 NPR. But they said the industry is funding new technology that they believe will get recycling plastic up to scale. “There was never an enthusiastic belief that recycling was ultimately going to work in a significant way,” says Lew Freeman, former vice president of government affairs for the industry’s lobbying group, then called the Society of the Plastics Industry, or SPI. "Recycling has to get more efficient, more economic. In a joint investigation, NPR and the PBS series Frontline found that oil and gas companies — the makers of plastic — have known that all along, even as they spent millions of dollars telling the American public the opposite. Recycling, the former officials told NPR and Frontline, became a way to preempt the bans and sell more plastic. Plastic Wars: Industry Spent Millions Selling Recycling — To Sell More Plastic. National Public Radio (NPR) and Frontline, the PBS investigative documentary series, are presenting Plastic Wars, a joint investigation that “reveals how plastic makers for decades have publicly promoted recycling, despite . We want to solve this.". https://www.plasticstoday.com/sites/all/themes/penton_subtheme_plasticstoday/images/logos/footer.png. But the truth is, the vast majority of all plastic produced can't be or won't be recycled. Plastic production overall is now expected to triple by 2050, and once again, the industry is spending money on ads and public relations to promote plastic and recycling. Plastic Wars, a documentary by Frontline and NPR, premieres March 31 at 10/9c on PBS stations and online. But if it’s not a top concern for voters, how much can it help? Gas prices remain at historic lows, making new plastic cheaper than recycled plastic. Registered in England and Wales. , a trading division of Informa PLC. We don't like to see [waste in the environment] either. We will share our views on what the show got right as well as any omissions, factual errors and half-truths that we spot, and look forward to your comments, as well. The documentary “Plastic Wars,” from FRONTLINE and NPR, reveals how plastic makers for decades have publicly promoted recycling, despite privately expressing doubts that widespread plastic recycling would ever be economically viable. Investigations All Things Considered for March 31, 2020 NPR Stories For Apple News Investigations Energy Story of the Day Environment National Home Page Top Stories News All Things Considered.