And the industry now produces many more different — and more complex — kinds of plastics that are more costly to sort and in many cases can't be recycled at all. Plastic is now more prevalent than it's ever been and harder to recycle. Starting tonight, you can watch that documentary "Plastic Wars" on PBS stations and online. In 40 years, less than 10% of plastic has ever been recycled. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. SULLIVAN: That's right. We don't like to see [waste in the environment] either. A report sent to top industry executives in April 1973 called recycling plastic "costly" and "difficult." ", The industry promoted recycling to keep plastic bans at bay. It called sorting it "infeasible," saying "there is no recovery from obsolete products." So far we've raised Industry analysts expect oil and gas demands from the chemicals industry will surpass the demand from the transport side in the coming decade. Plastics industry had “serious doubt” recycling would ever be viable . And those profits have become increasingly important. In interviews, current plastics industry officials acknowledged that recycling the vast majority of plastic hasn't worked in the past. The goal, they say, is to recycle 100% of the plastic they make. Laura Sullivan/NPR. Pennsylvania Republicans had sought to block the counting of late-arriving ballots, which the state's Supreme Court had approved last month. Today, it truly is not just PR. Now they've won the Aurora Prize — which has its own twist. ", More recycling means fewer profits for oil and gas companies. We want to solve this.". Share Tweet Email. Recycling, the former officials told NPR and Frontline, became a way to preempt the bans and sell more plastic. U.S. But the more plastic is recycled, the less money the industry will make selling new plastic. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. SULLIVAN: And that was the question we had. "If the public thinks the recycling is working, then they're not going to be as concerned about the environment. But here's a look at some of our key findings. And the industry now produces many more different — and more complex — kinds of plastics that are more costly to sort and in many cases can't be recycled at all. I mean, anyone can take something plastic and turn it into something else, but the question has always been whether the cost of all that makes sense. We've got to do a better job collecting the waste, sorting it," says Jim Becker, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.'s vice president of sustainability. We don't like to see [waste in the environment] either. Copyright 2020 NPR. Plastic production overall is now expected to triple by 2050, and once again, the industry is spending money on ads and public relations to promote plastic and recycling. The study's authors urge people not to panic — and stress the need for more research.
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