Plastics and public relations

Plastic pollution and the invention of ‘litter’

Or, how the packaging industry avoided responsibility for creating the problem in the first place

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Plastics are incredibly useful – but only if used in the right way.

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For example, as packaging to keep your fruit and veg nice and fresh – because single-use plastics are so very eco-friendly:

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The Good, The Bad and The Spudly | youtube

WASTE ONLY | How the Plastics Industry Is Fighting to Keep Polluting the World | theintercept.com

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Another way would be to try and ‘reduce, recycle, reuse’ the plastic we use:

Futures Forum: The UK Plastic Pact > supermarkets and brands commit to creating a circular economy for plastics by 2025

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Although, if you’re in the business of producing a product, you would rather the focus be on ‘recycle’ and not on ‘reuse’ and certainly not on ‘reduce’:

Futures Forum: The plastics industry is “incredibly supportive of recycling legislation over a more long-term… reduction of disposable culture.”

 

But the strategy of encouraging us to buy lots of plastic products and ‘recycle’ them – rather than reduce or even reuse them – has a very long history:

Futures Forum: Plastic recycling and greenwashing

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And so we had the invention of the idea of ‘litter’ – to cast responsibility for packaging pollution on the consumer rather than the producer.

Which produced the most successful advertising campaign ever:

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Keep America Beautiful – (Crying-Indian) – 70s PSA Commercial – YouTube

An Excerpt from Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images by Finis Dunaway

The Origins of Anti-Litter Campaigns – Mother Jones

Futures Forum: Plastic pollution and the invention of ‘litter’ > or, how the packaging industry avoided responsibility for creating the problem in the first place

   
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