Demand for plastic has been as manufactured as plastics themselves. Society is awash in throwaway plastics not because of the logic of desire but because of the logic of history and of integrated industrial systems.
For decades, the industry has created the illusion that its problems are well under control, all while intensifying production and promotion. More plastics have been made over the past two decades than during the second half of the 20th century. Today, recycling is a flailing, failing system—and yet it is still touted as plastics’ panacea. No end-of-the-pipe fix can manage mass plastics’ volume, complex toxicity, or legacy of pollution, and the industry’s long-standing infractions against human health and rights.
All of this has been true for years, but if there is a time to talk about plastics, now might be it. Plastics are poised to dominate the 21st century as one of the yet-unchecked drivers of climate change. [Continue reading…]