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Plastic Pollution

Blog by Theresa Kempker

Many of us have seen pictures of plastic pollution, the litter that is everywhere, fouling rivers and oceans, ensnaring animals, getting tangled in farm machines.  My niece recently has gone to great lengths to stop bringing plastic into her kitchen.  She also has the ability to drive to a nearby town to shop to buy foods in her own containers.  But almost assuredly single-use plastic was used in the production and delivery of that food.

Plastic is also used to give us a better life.  Because of plastic, cars are safer, technology works, and medical care unheard of 150 years ago is possible.  How do we stop the pollution and the mounds of discarded plastic, yet enjoy the benefits of this material?  Maybe we recycle our milk jugs and, in some areas, our yogurt containers and dish soap bottles.  And of course, we should try to use less plastic in our lives.  But what we must do is demand that world leaders curb the use of Virgin Single-Use Plastic Polymers (VSUPP). 

VSUPP are made from fossil fuels.  They are the plastic most likely to end up in the ocean, where they negatively effect marine life and the ocean’s ability to store carbon.  They often end up polluting developing countries the worst, being burned or dumped. 

In 2019, just 20 polymer producers accounted for more than half of all single-use plastic waste generated globally[1]—and the top 100 accounted for 90 per cent, with major global investors aiding the VSUPP production through investment or lending.  We must demand that governments and companies learn to produce and use recycled polymers.  All governments and companies should have policies about the disposition of all plastic, including single-use.  Developed nations supply VSUPP to underdeveloped countries to manufacture single-use plastics, but the developed nations make no plans to control any resulting pollution; this must stop. 

What can we do?  Raise awareness.  We must limit our use of plastics and use recycled when possible.  When plastics keep us safe or healthy or connected, give thanks.  And then, write to the companies.  ExxonMobil and Dow are major producers of VSUPP, and US-based.  Vanguard, BlackRock, and Capital are US investors.  Barclays, HSBC, and, Bank of America are major lenders from the US. 

[1]  Accessed May 23, 2021. 

4 thoughts on “Plastic Pollution

  1. Thank you, Theresa, for again bringing to our attention to the issue of ever-present plastic around us–from water sold in flimsy plastic bottles to those impossible-to-pen plastic cracker packages, And the oil industry is happy that these are made with plastic polymers. Are not polyesters also manufactured with oil extracts?

  2. Thank you Theresa. Another blog raising our awareness of the problems with our “modern” society.

  3. Thanks so much Theresa, for raising the issue. We’ve known about this for a long time and yet it’s amazing that so far there’s no coordinated plan to minimize the pollution. And as always, the most damage is done to the countries and the people who use it the least and suffer from it the most.

  4. Dear Theresa,
    Grateful to learn something new about plastics and what we can do. It is such an important issue and I will bring it to congress with emails and calls whenever I can. Writing or emailing Exxon Mobil and
    Dow to stop the use of VSUUP. Maybe even our community could write a message to these groups to stop this use and save lives.

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