Environmental campaigners mostly blame consumer product brands like Coca-Cola for the global plastic waste crisis. The Plastic Waste Makers Index identified ExxonMobil, Barclays, Saudi Arabia and Vanguard as the biggest producers and investors in single use plastics.
Just 20 companies – supported by a small group of financial backers – are responsible for producing 55% of single use plastics, items that are discarded immediately after they are used. The material pollutes water streams worldwide and creates swaths of waste in the oceans.
According to the Plastic Waste Makers Index, United States–based ExxonMobil and Dow are the biggest sources of polymers for the controversial products, followed by China-owned Sinopec.
The report published by Minderoo Foundation highlighted the players in the petrochemical sector that are the most responsible, but also their financiers. Barclays, a multinational bank from the United Kingdom, is the biggest lender to the industry. JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, both headquartered in New York, the Bank of America and HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, are in the top tier.
Close to 60% of the commercial finance funding the production of throwaway plastics comes from just 20 global banks, researchers found.
Vanguard, BlackRock top equity ownership chart
As for equity owners, the biggest backing in the sector comes from the government funds of Saudi Arabia, China and the United Arab Emirates. The Ambani family from India landed in the fourth position. The index also points to the role of asset managers, led by Vanguard Group and BlackRock.
The 100 biggest producers in the world account for 90% of single use plastics
The list of petrochemical producers contains 100 entities and they accounted for 90% of single use plastics in the world. The material eventually breaks down into tiny particles, microplastic, which impact wildlife and human health.
“Government policies, where they exist, tend to focus on the vast number of companies that sell finished plastic products. Relatively little attention has been paid to the smaller number of businesses at the base of the supply chain that make polymers – the building blocks of all plastics – almost exclusively from fossil fuels,” the document reads.
Focus must shift to recycling, alternative commodities
In similar reports, Coca-Cola and other major consumer product brands get most of the blame, but the focus needs to be on producing recycled polymers from plastic waste, on reuse models and alternative commodities, the authors said. They underscored just 2% of single use plastics come from recycled material and that companies and banks must be forced to disclose relevant data.
The companies and banks involved in the petrochemicals industry need to be forced to disclose relevant data
The study includes information on the biggest contributions to the throwaway plastics crisis among countries. The largest volume of single use plastic waste per inhabitant is generated in Australia, 59 kilograms, and the US is next with 53 kilos.
Cyprus is the only country in the region tracked by Balkan Green Energy News that appears in the lists. PPH Polymer Products Holdings, based in the island country, ranked 20th in the investors index. SIXB and SOIHL Cyprus Investment are in the 76th and 77th places, respectively.