Guangzhou, China — An alliance of global plastics resin makers and trade associations from the United States and Europe came to the Chinaplas trade fair May 17 with a very specific goal — recruit China's state-owned plastics giants into their efforts to address plastic pollution in the ocean.
Leaders of the World Plastics Council said they're trying to build stronger ties with the Chinese because Asia has become a key in the debate and battle over how to address plastic litter in the ocean.
The outreach is part of a larger political push by the WPC to build support and additional resources for solutions the industry prefers on marine litter.
WPC leaders, for example, told the Chinese executives that they like the direction the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum is taking on marine litter, because APEC says the problem is lack of government infrastructure in collecting waste.
They contrasted that sharply with the United Nation's environment program, which in February said it launching a "war on ocean plastic" and urging product bans. WPC leaders said they hoped to build on the APEC approach.
"We believe that establishing a regionally strong and credible approach in the Asia Pacific region will be a good defense against the more problematic proposals of the United Nations," said Steve Russell, vice president of the plastics division of the Washington-based American Chemistry Council.
During a public portion of the meeting, WPC officials said they hoped to get more Chinese firms to join. The meeting, on the sidelines of Chinaplas May 16-19 in Guangzhou, included executives of Sinopec, Chinachem and Sinochem.