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G20 to tackle ocean plastic waste as petrochemical producers expand in Asia

June 13, 2019 / Malcolm Foster

Japan wants to make reducing the glut of plastic waste in the oceans a priority at the Group of 20 summit it is hosting this month as governments around the world crack down on such pollution. Images of plastic debris-strewn beaches and dead animals with stomachs full of plastic have sparked outrage, with many countries, including more than two dozen in Africa, banning plastic bags outright. The EU has voted to outlaw 10 single-use plastic items, including straws, forks and knives, by 2021. It has also set targets for all plastic packaging, the top source of plastic waste, to be recyclable by 2030. Such moves are setting up a showdown with the oil industry, which is pouring billions into new facilities to produce more plastic and other petrochemical products, particularly in Asia. Refiners such as India’s Reliance Industries and China’s Sinopec are seeking new revenue sources as electric cars become more popular and gasoline and diesel demand slows.