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California Considers Suing Exxon Over Plastic Pollution

California is close to completing a two-year investigation into Exxon on allegations of plastic pollution. After that, the state will decide whether to sue the supermajor for polluting or not.

That’s what California’s Attorney General told Reuters, using rhetoric that suggested the lawsuit is the more likely outcome.

"We are soon going to be ready to get to a decision based on all of our investigations in the coming weeks," Rob Bonta said. "The lies and deceit Exxon used to cover up the truth about the non-recyclability of plastic is well documented."

The news comes as the UN meets to discuss a massive plastics ban aimed at reducing the amount of waste that ends up in the ocean and landfills. Advocates of the ban would try to make it binding for member states.

Exxon is spearheading a pushback against this plan, even as California investigates it for plastics pollution. “The issue is pollution. The issue is not plastic,” Exxon’s head of product solutions, Karen McKee, told the FT. “A limit on plastic production will not serve us in terms of pollution and the environment.”

At the same time, the company has declined to comment on the California investigation but Reuters recalls that back when the probe was launched in 2022, Exxon said the allegations had no merit and that it was working to improve plastics recycling.

According to the state of California, however, the company was involved in a "half-century campaign of deception" and in perpetuating "myths around recycling."

Recycling will be in the spotlight of the UN meeting today as well. It was a failure to agree on plastic waste management which delayed efforts seeking global agreement on the treatment of plastics in the future. According to UN data, only about 9% of all plastics produced in the world get recycled. Another 12% is burned and the rest ends up in landfills and rivers.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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