Artist credit: Ben Von Wong

Petrochemical companies are a major contributor to plastic production, increasing the threats of plastic pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss and human health impacts. However, during the latest round of the UN led Plastics Treaty negotiations, in which countries are aiming to agree on a legally binding treaty addressing the key drivers of plastic pollution, petrochemical companies and their supporters have opposed any cut to production to curb plastic pollution and pushed back against the inclusion of polymer production within the treaty.

We now ask investors to address petrochemical companies as their support for an ambitious agreement is vital:

  • Plastic production is due to triple by 2060 and petrochemical companies will become the main driver of growth in oil demand
  • Lifecycle emissions from plastics will more than double, making up 4.5% of global emissions
  • Plastic polymers contain toxic and hazardous chemicals, out of the 16,000 chemicals present in plastics over 4,000 are identified as toxic
  • Toxic chemicals and additives have an impact on human health and are, among other health issues, associated with diabetes, obesity, fertility issues and different types of cancers

This poses significant plastic-related risks to petrochemical companies producing plastic polymers. These risks include regulatory risks (e.g. tighter emission controls, bans, taxation, and extended producer responsibility costs), reputational risks, plastic-related litigation, and increased consumer demand for safe and more sustainable products. These risks could be financially material for corporates and their investors.

We encourage investors with exposure to the plastics value chain to sign this statement and request petrochemical companies that produce plastic polymers to take stronger actions towards plastics circularity. This statement sets out the following expectations of companies:

  1. Transparently disclose, define strategies and set clear targets to transition to production of safe, environmentally sound and sustainable plastic
  2. Address polymers and chemicals of concern in their products
  3. Build suitable infrastructure for production of sustainable materials
  4. Establish dedicated governance 
  5. Publicly support an ambitious international legally binding instrument for ending plastic pollution

The deadline for signing up to this statement is 7 June 2024.

If you would like to learn more about the role petrochemical companies play in addressing plastic pollution, watch our webinar recording below.