January 25, 2021

The Case For Plastic? | Why You Shouldn’t Swallow The Propaganda

3 min read
Online retailer becomes 99% plastic free and takes a stand against those championing plastics The...

Online retailer becomes 99% plastic free and takes a stand against those championing plastics

The online retailer Internet Fusion Group, who are responsible for brands like Surfdome, WebTogs, BlackLeaf, Simply Scuba, Country Attire and more, have come out all guns blazing in their fight to to tackle plastic pollution; sending a message to the industry, and those with a vested interest in the manufacture of plastics, that anyone bidding to stand in the way of progress will be left exposed by cold, hard, reality.

The company’s full plastic statement, which we’ve linked to further down the page, shines a spotlight on those downplaying the significance of the plastic problem and explores exactly why those involved in the fossil fuel industry continue to make the case for using plastics despite all the evidence against it (spoiler alert: it’s because of money, and self-preservation).

This statement underlines the fact that the environmental issues facing our planet aren’t mutually exclusive and are, in fact, all wrapped up together. We might think the climate crisis and the marine plastic crisis fall under different umbrellas, in other words, but they both stem from the production and consumption of fossil fuels.

“The World Economic Forum expects plastic production to double by 2040”

The World Economic Forum expects plastic production to double by 2040. This wayward development boils down to oil companies seeking to augment diminishing returns available from fracking and an anticipated decline in fossil fuel consumption globally.

Oil companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, Saudi Aramco, Sinopec, Qatar Petroluem all either own, operate, oinvested in plastics infrastructure. Easy to join the dots on this one, isn’t it?

Depending on what social media echo chamber you find yourself in, you might very well have missed the case being made for plastic. The argument for it, which the IFG plastic statement takes apart on an almost forensic level, rests on the wobbly pillars of energy consumption. Firstly, it requires relatively little energy to manufacture. Secondly, it’s pretty light which means less energy is used during transportation.

Plastic-In-The-Ocean
Plastic-In-The-Ocean

This perspective quickly falls down, according to the statement, because it assumes assessing environmental impact can be limited to looking at just one or two stages in a process. In reality though, to really judge something’s environmental impact you have to zoom out and look at the process from the extraction of raw materials right on through to the biodegrading of the product. Polyethylene, of course, never biodegrades.

The sheer scale of the plastic problem is underlined in the statement by a number of hard-hitting facts that are, in all honesty, difficult to forget once you’ve seen them.

  • 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year. This is equivalent to the weight of the entire human race
  • 40% of today’s global plastic waste ends up in the environment
  • By 2030 it will be two truckloads of plastic dumped in the ocean every minute. By 2050, this will have doubled to four truckloads per minute
  • The ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025. There will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050
  • Plastic pollution poses an existential threat to 700 marine species
  • Plastic is found in the stomachs of more than 90% of the world’s sea birds, and more than half of the world’s sea turtles

There’s quite a few more facts like this in the statement, with all of them coming together one after the other to drive home just how severely we’ve messed up the planet.

The statement finishes with a call to action, one that reiterates how the plastic issue and the climate crisis issue are two sides of the same troublesome coin. Stop using plastics, the argument goes, and you’re fighting climate change. Switch to renewable energy, and you are fighting marine plastic pollution. “For the sake of the planet,” it says, “it’s vital that we see and understand that connection.”

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Read the full Internet Fusion Group statement on plastics here.

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