//The Guardian view on plastics: reducing bag use is not enough | Editorial

The Guardian view on plastics: reducing bag use is not enough | Editorial

As the oil industry plans a big increase in the manufacture of packaging, the need for international action on waste has never been clearer

From shocking footage of an albatross chick killed by a plastic toothpick to images of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and recent coverage of the increase in litter left behind by visitors to the British countryside during the pandemic, there is no shortage of evidence of the harm and ugliness caused by plastic. Public awareness of the problem has grown rapidly over recent years in many countries, and led to new legislation. But while environmental organisations work hard to highlight links between the plastics and oil industries – and while pollution of the oceans and failures by the waste and recycling industry have become key themes for campaigners – the issue of plastics is still not widely enough recognised as a consequence of our dependence on fossil fuels.

Reports of plans by the oil industry to expand the supply of virgin plastics by a quarter over five years, while putting pressure on countries such as Kenya to lift restrictions on their use, show how urgently this needs to change. Plastics are not a byproduct of the fossil fuel industry. They are a product of it. The expansion of plastics manufacturing, on which companies including Saudi Aramco and Royal Dutch Shell plan to spend about $400bn (£300bn), is part of the industry’s coordinated response to the reduced demand for fuel brought about by the shift to renewable energy and electric vehicles.

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Read more: theguardian.com