Exxon lobbyist says undercover activist company sees plastics as a “growing business”

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A senior ExxonMobil lobbyist unknowingly told a Greenpeace activist that disposing and recycling plastic would be “big business” for petrochemical companies.

Keith McCoy, who previously said energy companies are battling “some of the science” on climate change, told a producer at Greenpeace affiliate group Unearthed that “all of our petrochemical facilities that we’ve refitted … are all turned over. towards plastics. . “

“[W]We see this as a big business, a growing business, but the problem is going to be the disposal and recycling of plastics, ”McCoy said in the clip, which first aired on the environmentalist“ Drilled ”. . Podcast. “And it got a lot of attention in Congress, at the American Chemistry Council, they worked on it almost exclusively … because they’re talking about banning plastics and it has a lot to do with plastics in the oceans and waterways. “

When asked if Exxon was concerned about potential plastics bans, McCoy replied that the problem was “twofold,” adding that “an outright ban on plastics is probably not feasible.”

However, he added that “smart” policymakers seeking to tout their environmental records are likely to bring the issue to the fore, adding “I fully expect [President] Biden to start talking about it soon.

“I think they’re going to start talking about this in relation to environmental justice because you can bring it all together under one roof from an environmental protection agency‘s perspective,” he said. , especially if the topic of conversation is how these plastics affect rivers and underprivileged communities.

“I’ve always said you control the debate if you have the paper so if they produce the paper you can control the debate you can start saying that’s what we think this legislation should look like and um, that bill you have out there, here’s our article on why that won’t work, ”McCoy added.

“We’ve done the research, we have the scientists, we have the companies that have been doing this for 100 years, you know,” he continued. “That’s why we think our paper works better than your paper. So you can start having these conversations and… it’s extremely effective in pushing back against bad laws.

In a statement, an Exxon spokesperson told The Hill that the company “shares the company’s concerns about plastic waste in the environment and agrees that it needs to be addressed.”

“Plastic waste in the environment is part of a larger problem related to the global waste management infrastructure. At least 3 billion people worldwide do not have access to controlled waste disposal facilities “, added the spokesperson.

“We are taking action to tackle plastic waste in the environment by increasing the recyclability of plastic and supporting improvements in plastic waste recovery, for example, through our founding membership in the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee called on McCoy to testify after the first recordings were released in July.

This story was updated at 9:14 a.m. on August 6.


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