California prosecutor subpoenas ExxonMobil to explain its role in the plastic waste crisis

The California attorney general announced Thursday that he has issued a subpoena to ExxonMobil for information on their role in causing the global plastic waste crisis.

The subpoena is part of a broader investigation led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta into the role of the Petrochemical industry and fossil fuels in “causing and exacerbating the global plastic pollution crisis.”

“For more than half a century, the plastics industry has engaged in an aggressive campaign to mislead the public, perpetuating the myth that recycling can solve the plastics crisis. The truth is that the vast majority of plastic cannot be recycled,” Bonta said in a statement.

The investigation will resemble one launched by several state attorneys general into the role fossil fuel companies played in causing and exacerbating climate change, which focused on what the industry knew decades ago and how the companies misled the public about their paper.

In this investigation, the attorney general will focus on the “half-century campaign of deception and ongoing damage done to the state of California” by companies that produce plastics, a petroleum-based product, and how they perpetuate the “myths around to recycling”.

Exxon is the first company to receive a subpoena, but officials said they will target other companies in the industry as well.

An Exxon spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

More than 90% of plastic waste worldwide ends up in landfills or is incinerated, according to a landmark study published in Science Advances. The rate of recycling in the United States has never exceeded 9%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Bonta said the petrochemical industry has been aware for decades that recycling was not feasible on a large scale, even as plastic production soared, and has pushed back against state, local and national efforts to issue plastic bans and other measures.

The industry has promoted “advanced recycling” – a method of burning plastic into fuel or other products – as a solution to the plastic waste crisis, but a Reuters investigation showed that major projects have had little or no success. .

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