Just 20 firms are behind more than half of the world’s single-use plastic waste

Single-use plastic is a source of pollution for the environment, in particular the world’s oceans. — Placebo365/IStock.com via AFP
Single-use plastic is a source of pollution for the environment, in particular the world’s oceans. — Placebo365/IStock.com via AFP

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NEW YORK, May 20 — Just 20 companies are behind more than half of the world’s single-use plastic waste, according to a new report. And the top 100 companies in the ranking account for 90 per cent of this waste. 

Single-use plastic — which represents over a third of plastics produced each year — is a source of pollution for the environment, in particular the world’s oceans, where five to 13 million metric tonnes of this waste ends up each year. In its latest report, titled The Plastic Waste Makers Index*, the Minderoo Foundation has identified the companies that use fossil fuels to produce the five primary polymers that generate the vast majority of single-use plastic waste globally, as well as the companies making efforts to create a circular plastics economy.

The verdict is that just 20 companies are responsible for over half of the world’s single-use plastic waste. The US-based petrochemicals firm ExxonMobil, tops the list of the world’s top plastic waste makers (5.9 million metric tonnes), ahead of the American multinational Dow (5.6 million tonnes), and the Chinese petroleum and chemical corporation, Sinopec (5.3 million tonnes). The report states that these three firms alone are responsible for 16 per cent of global single-use plastic waste.

Looking at the top 20 of these most polluting companies when it comes to single-use plastic waste, 11 are based in Asia, four in Europe, three in North America, one in Latin America and one in the Middle East.

Country by country 

The Plastic Waste Makers Index also shows the countries that generate the most single-use plastic waste, based on consumption per head. Australia tops the list with 59kg per person in 2019, ahead of the USA (53kg), South Korea and the UK (around 40kg), Japan (approx.35kg), and France close behind. — ETX Studio

*Minderoo Foundation’s ‘Plastic Waste-Makers Index’ was developed in partnership with Wood Mackenzie, experts from the London School of Economics, the Stockholm Environment Institute and others

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