Waste management

Report Dec. 20, 2019

In this article

Waste management

Reducing plastic waste within our operations


ExxonMobil recognizes the public’s concern regarding plastic waste and prioritizes eliminating unnecessary waste from our operations to increase efficiency and minimize potential impacts to the environment. As a large energy company with a chemical business, we recognize the importance of responsibly managing plastic pellet loss within our operations.

Although laws and regulations related to reporting of plastic pellet loss to the environment vary by jurisdiction, we are working to implement a common global reporting standard across our operations, which we plan to have in place in 2020. In 2018, ExxonMobil had no reportable plastic pellet losses. Our aim is to have zero pellet loss to the environment. 

Plant personnel monitor our facilities via routine daily rounds. When a loss of containment is discovered, loose pellets are promptly contained and cleaned up. Pellet recovery equipment, such as skimmers and sieves, is also in place to recover pellets captured in our drainage systems. 

2018 performance and initiatives

ExxonMobil also actively participates in industry initiatives related to pellet loss. For example, since 2008, we have been a member of Operation Clean Sweep (OCS), a product stewardship program of the American Chemistry Council and the Plastics Industry Association. OCS helps drive implementation of best practices, including working toward achieving zero pellet loss to the environment across the industry. ExxonMobil has incorporated OCS principles into our Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS), which is applied at our plastics production facilities around the world. OIMS requires a regular assessment of our procedures to ensure they are effective, and the implementation of improvement measures if needed.

ExxonMobil’s chemical business also encourages third-party logistics suppliers delivering resins from our facilities to implement similar processes to prevent pellet loss, for example by incorporating OCS principles into our Supplier Relationship Management process.

ExxonMobil was a founding member of the Chemical Industry Responsible Care program, which we implement through OIMS. Responsible Care focuses on helping chemical companies achieve and sustain operational excellence in the areas of safety, environment, product stewardship, security, community engagement and health management. In 2018, ExxonMobil Chemical Company was awarded a Responsible Care Exceptional Merit award in the Energy Efficiency category. In June 2019, ExxonMobil received the Responsible Care Company of the Year award, which included performance achievements during 2018.


Achieving validation for waste reduction initiatives at our lubricant plants

ExxonMobil is the first petroleum products company to achieve a Zero Waste to Landfill Silver designation from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a company that tests, inspects, audits and certifies safety and environmental aspects of products and operations worldwide. UL’s Zero Waste to Landfill designation reflects increasing percentages of waste being diverted away from landfill. UL audited ExxonMobil’s global lubricant operations in 2018 and verified waste diversion rates of more than 90 percent, representing more than 50,000 tons of waste kept out of landfill, through source reduction, reuse and recycling. ExxonMobil and UL plan to repeat audits in future years.

Our waste management program establishes innovative techniques and processes across 14 waste categories. For example, our Port Allen lubricant plant in Louisiana developed a process that ensures aerosol cans are safely drained to enable recycling of both the metal and remaining liquid. At multiple plants, we took steps to minimize generation of waste lubricants and worked with suppliers to extend the useful life of pallets for product transportation. 

Helping customers reduce their plastic waste


Over the next few decades, population and income growth are expected to create more demand for plastics, which help support safety, convenience and improved living standards. Plastic packaging can make food more convenient to transport, help reduce spoilage and improve food safety for consumers. ExxonMobil recognizes post-consumer plastic waste is an environmental challenge in parts of the world due to lack of effective waste collection and management. Society’s solutions to this challenge will require collective support, innovation and collaboration on a global basis.
We are continuing to develop polymers that enable customers to use less plastic and make the plastic they use easier to recycle. For example, our new performance polyethylene resins enable our customers to meet their performance needs, often with more than 20 percent thinner, lighter-weight products, thus reducing materials consumption and waste. Our VistamaxxTM performance polymers help customers increase the amount of recycled content in plastics without degrading performance. We are also assessing technology options to economically convert plastic waste to petrochemical feedstock by leveraging reliable, large-scale chemical processes.

Nurfzailah Binte Razali, laboratory technician, inspects plastic pellets at ExxonMobil’s olefins plant in Singapore.

2018 performance and initiatives

In 2018, ExxonMobil became the first energy company to join The Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing recycling in the United States. The Recycling Partnership uses corporate investments to improve recycling practices across the country. We have committed $1.5 million to help develop sustainable solutions and support activities such as curbside recycling programs. The partnership has supported more than 1,000 communities, including 50 million homes, and has diverted 180 million pounds of recyclable waste away from landfills to recycling centers. 

In 2018, ExxonMobil also became a member of Materials Recovery for the Future, a nonprofit research program focused on identification and demonstration of single-stream curbside recycling solutions for flexible plastic packaging materials. The primary objective of the program is to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of recycling household flexible plastic packaging through community municipal recycling. Plans include recycling of polyethylene and other flexible films, wraps, bags and pouches.

In January 2019, ExxonMobil became a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, an organization consisting of more than 40 companies from across the plastics and consumer goods value chain that is committed to advancing potential scalable solutions to reduce plastic waste in the environment. Members of the alliance have already collectively committed more than $1 billion to fund those activities.

Solutions to address the challenge of post-consumer plastic waste will require collective support, innovation and collaboration on a global basis—from resin producers, waste management companies, consumer brands and retailers to nongovernmental organizations, governments and consumers. ExxonMobil is committed to working with members of the alliance and other key stakeholders to help address the challenge.

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