05/08 (IPS) – This spring, I taught a new college course in environmental sociology. Most of my students take the course because they are curious to see what their desire to live more sustainably has to do with sociology.
In the third week – after delving into the troubling connections between fossil capitalism (capitalism’s dependence on fossil fuels), waste colonialism (unfair international trade and hazardous waste disposal between countries) and unfair environment – a few students said vaguely that they thought the course would be more optimistic.
In the fourth week, we explored the well-documented history of climate denial and deception between fossil fuel companies, as well as related companies”lie and refuseTactics of the tobacco, lead and chemical industries. “Do you think it’s really true?” a student begged me. “Do you think businesses are really unsustainable and will never change?”
I affirm that. I want my students to look at complex environmental issues from a critical sociological perspective, but I don’t want to lead them down a pessimistic path. “Well,” I admitted, “I just did Write a book about the plastics industry with the subtitle ‘how corporations are fueling the ecological crisis and what we can do about it’.
It’s hard to avoid pessimism when you witness first-hand the bigotry of industries that harm society and the environment. In early 2019, I attended a plastic industry conference after the event marine plastic crisisfueled by public outrage over viral images of marine wildlife choke plastic. The crisis prompted a swift response from plastic-related corporations, who tried to shape the problem into litter and waste rather than overproduction. “We need to get the image of plastic in the oceans out of the public’s mind,” said a company executive at the conference. “We need to make plastic great again.”
Since the dramatic increase of worldwide plastic production after second World WarPetrochemical and plastics companies have struggled to expand and protect their markets by creating demand for plastic products, eliminating toxic risks and shifting the responsibility of pollution to people. consumption. And despite the growing public awareness of (and regulations about) plastic pollutionThe global plastic crisis is just become heavy.
The company book often contain a variety of common strategies used by controversial industries to conceal or raise suspicions about the harms of their products. The champion of these strategies has been dubbed “doubtful merchant“And allegedly committed crimes from reducing the health risks of smoking to funding climate change denial.
As researcher David Michaels wrote in his exhibit Doubt is their product, “The scientific manipulation of the plastics industry is at least as bold and self-serving as any other industry” he studied – including the tobacco industry. Michaels mentioned vinyl chloride scandal of the 1960s and 1970s, when leading chemical companies conspired to conceal evidence of the toxic health effects of vinyl chloride monomers to workers in chemical plants.
The great industry’s achievements continue to this day. It refused toxic hazard a multitude of petrochemicals and plastic products, funded climate misinformation campaigndeceive the public about efficiency of recyclingand campaigned to hinder and delay Environmental regulations. During the pandemic, the organization has also campaigned to promote single-use plastic bags as “hygiene options“.
Leading corporations also employ offensive tactics, including directing attention to their so-called role of green tech innovators. Follow circular economy, For example. Sounds like a great idea to try waste removal by converting from linear”take-as-waste“The economy in which existing materials are reused for as long as possible. Importantly, however, no global vision or national policy of a circular economy for plastics goes so far as to call for Limit plastic production completely.
In fact, the plastics industry drives the weakest form of the circular economy – Recycling – mean produce plastic can continue, though reality that most items that go into the recycling bin will be burned or thrown away.
Furthermore, recycling uses a lot of energy. Chemical recyclingfor example, involving returning plastics to their original molecular state to be reused. Although it is touted as a solution to the plastic crisis, it is a toxic, carbon-intensive process that has the same effect as burn.
Here’s some good news: in March 2022, UN Environment Council in Nairobi agreed on a mission for a new global treaty to solve crisis. This is a landmark achievement towards creating legally binding measures to prevent harmful plastic pollution.
Many scientists, activists and organizations insist that any resulting treaty must include limits on produce plastic. However, the negotiations will be challenging for businesses’ benefits are conferred in maintaining regulations that focus on waste rather than production. Now, it is imperative that we roll back greenwashing and move towards the global mission of curbing unsustainable plastic growth.
© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service