To maximize the pressure to change corporate behavior, the report names global banks and wealth managers that are funding or benefiting from single-use plastics, including Barclays, HSBC, Bank of America, Vanguard and BlackRock.
Australia’s ANZ ranks 35th among banks financing polymer products, along with global giants Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley.
Findings include $ 30 billion in loans from 20 major banks that have been in the sector since 2011. Up to $ 300 billion ($ 387 billion) is held by 20 asset managers at the parent companies of single-use plastic polymer manufacturers.
Dr. Forrest, founder of Fortescue Metals Group, said countries like Australia need to take urgent steps towards a circular economy in order to avert an environmental disaster and end the use of so-called “native” plastics.
He said immense political will was required to end a “take-make-waste” model for products such as coffee mugs, face masks, grocery bags and beverage bottles.
“Australia needs to take a close look at our own backyard when it comes to producing single-use plastics,” he said.
“The same companies, and there are only a handful of them that are causing climate change, are the same companies that make polymers and pay lip service to recycling and lip service to plastic redesign.”
PM urged to lead
Dr. Forrest said the prime minister should continue to take a leading role in the international debate.
“We should set a date of no more than two years on which we will not import another kilo of plastic that has not been recycled 25 percent. We should say that at least all plastic imported into Australia must be fully recycled by 2025.
“It can’t come from raw fossil fuels.”
He said the human health impact of widespread plastic use was a major threat in the future. Microplastics from the breakdown of single-use products have been found in some cancers, and chemical additives have been linked to a number of reproductive problems.
“The consumer has no choice, but it is time that consumers found their voice and say they will not buy products that are harmful to their environment and the health of their children,” he said.
Environmental activist Al Gore welcomed the report, which was produced with experts from the London School of Economics and the Stockholm Environment Institute.
“Finding the root causes of the plastic waste crisis enables us to solve it,” said the former Vice President of the United States.
“The courses of the climate crisis and the plastic waste crisis are strikingly similar and are becoming increasingly intertwined.
“As awareness of plastic pollution has risen, the petrochemical industry has told us it is their own fault and has drawn attention to changes in the behavior of end users of these products rather than addressing the problem at its source.”