You and I both know that there are some people in the plastics industry who think debates about sustainability are just about appeasing a small fringe group. We especially hear from them complaining that industry trade groups aren't doing enough to fight back against what they see as smears on the plastics industry.
But here's the thing: Sustainability issues aren't going to go away, and in fact are very much part of the mainstream.
Consider just a few items from the news this week. ExxonMobil was forced to put two people from a small investment firm, Engine No. 1, onto its 12-member board when shareholders at large backed Engine's claim that the chemical and gas giant isn't doing enough about climate change.
"To corporate America, the upset was a clear sign that company boards and leaders need to pay attention to environmental, social and governance issues — or suffer rebukes," The New York Times noted in its DealBook column.
Add to that a Dutch court ruling that Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell must speed its work to reduce carbon emissions. The chemical company had planned to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2030, but the court ordered the target should be 45 percent.
And on May 26, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation announced a "sustainable plastics initiative" that aims to improve plastics' footprint and improve circularity, something it said must include "new thinking, bold approaches and deep collaborations."
"From surgical masks to single-use cups, plastics played a key role in our lives as we confronted the pandemic," Marc DeCourcey, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, said in a news release. "Sustainable management of plastics will be critical to the next phase of COVID-19 recovery, and as we work to create a thriving economy that is good for people and the planet."