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California subpoenas Exxon for details on role in plastic pollution

A brand of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen on the Rio Oil and Gasoline Expo and Convention in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 24, 2018.

Sergio Moraes | Reuters

California’s legal professional normal on Thursday introduced an investigation into the fossil gas and petrochemical industries for allegedly overstating the function of recycling in curbing world plastic air pollution and exacerbating the disaster.

Legal professional Gen. Rob Bonta mentioned his workplace has subpoenaed Exxon Mobil for info referring to the corporate’s alleged function in deceiving the general public and worsening plastics air pollution. The workplace did not specify what different corporations it was investigating.

As state legislatures and native governments within the Nineteen Eighties started contemplating payments proscribing or banning plastic merchandise, fossil gas and petrochemical corporations started an “aggressive” and “misleading” marketing campaign to influence the general public that they might mitigate the waste downside by recycling, which the trade knew wasn’t true, Bonta alleged in a information launch.

“For greater than half a century, the plastics trade has engaged in an aggressive marketing campaign to deceive the general public, perpetuating a fantasy that recycling can resolve the plastics disaster,” Bonta mentioned. “The reality is: The overwhelming majority of plastic can’t be recycled.”

“This primary-of-its-kind investigation will look at the fossil gas trade’s function in creating and exacerbating the plastics air pollution disaster – and what legal guidelines, if any, have been damaged within the course of,” Bonta mentioned.

The world produces about 400 million tons of plastic waste annually, in accordance with estimates from the United Nations. Plastics take a whole lot of years to decompose, and nearly all of plastics find yourself sitting in landfills or the ocean. The U.S. solely recycles about 9% of its plastic, in accordance with the Environmental Safety Company.

Plastics are additionally set to drive almost half of oil demand progress by mid-century, in accordance with the Worldwide Power Company. Fossil gas and petrochemical corporations lately invested greater than $200 billion to broaden plastic manufacturing worldwide.

“We reject the allegations made by the Legal professional Basic’s workplace in its press launch,” Exxon spokesperson Julie L. King mentioned in a press release. “We’re centered on options and meritless allegations like these distract from the vital collaborative work that’s underway to boost waste administration and enhance circularity.”

Environmental activist teams on Thursday applauded the state’s investigation of the fossil gas trade.

“For too lengthy, ExxonMobil and different company polluters have been allowed to mislead the general public and hurt individuals and the planet,” mentioned Graham Forbes, plastics world marketing campaign lead at Greenpeace USA. “The science has develop into crystal clear that we should transfer away from fossil fuels and throwaway plastic.”

— CNBC’s Katie Brigham contributed reporting

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