Big plastic requests $1 billion bailout

“Having multinational companies with their tin cups out asking for taxpayer dollars at this moment in time is wrong.”

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The plastic industry is asking the federal government for a $1 billion bailout to help with plastic recycling during the pandemic. 

According to EcoWatch, a coalition of industry interests, including chemical and oil and gas companies that make plastics, sent a letter to Congress this month calling recycling an “essential service” and doubling their original ask of $500 million for recycling proposed in a bill introduced in the House in November.

“Recycling is an essential service and consumers are demanding products with more recycled content. In order to meet the demands of this crisis, we need investment now,” says an alliance of industry groups that included Dow, the American Chemistry Council, Berry Global Group Inc., and the Plastics Industry Association. 

The companies and trade groups seeking the billion-dollar bailout have given themselves the name Recover Coalition giving off the assumption they go hand-in-hand with the Recover Act. According to The Intercept, the Recover Act is a bill introduced in the House in November that calls for allocating $500 million to recycling infrastructure over five years.

An investigative report by NPR and the PBS series Frontline found the vast majority of all plastic produced can’t be or won’t be recycled. In 40 years, less than 10% of plastic has ever been recycled. 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.

While many U.S. citizens are struggling to afford healthcare, pay rent, and buy food, the last thing the country needs is to bail out big plastic. 

“Having multinational companies with their tin cups out asking for taxpayer dollars at this moment in time is wrong. We need the federal spending to go to things like more testing, contact tracing, investments in clean energy — and not to attempts to prop up the feeble plastics recycling infrastructure,” says Judith Enck, founder of the environmental group Beyond Plastics.

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