Advancing our solutions for plastic waste

Key takeaways:

  • We support a treaty that makes real progress possible.
  • It’s important to preserve the many benefits of plastics.
  • Our advanced recycling plans are helping already.

Karen McKee

President, ExxonMobil Product Solutions

Image Karen McKee discusses Operation Clean Sweep, which helps us prevent plastic leaking into the environment, at the global plastics discussions in Ottawa, Canada.
Karen McKee discusses Operation Clean Sweep, which helps us prevent plastic leaking into the environment, at the global plastics discussions in Ottawa, Canada.

As the fourth round of negotiations on a global plastics treaty opens this week in Ottawa, we’re eager to continue the dialogue and identify the solutions that will help the world address the issue of plastic waste.

The ideal outcome of these talks is a ratified treaty that keeps waste out of rivers and oceans. We believe the best way to reach that goal is to remember why these talks began – with a focus on ending plastic pollution.

ExxonMobil supports a treaty that provides the framework to make real progress toward eliminating plastic waste. Keeping a laser-like focus on that issue will get us to a solution faster.

We’re in Ottawa to serve as a resource for negotiators, to share what we know and to learn from others. We want to engage with and listen carefully to all interested parties.

Through the first three rounds of discussions, we’ve been encouraged to hear negotiators acknowledge the value of plastics and the benefits they bring to society:

  • They help reduce food waste, a significant problem. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that wasted food causes 58% of methane emissions from municipal solid waste landfills.
  • They also help transport clean water, keep medicine sterile, and save energy by reducing the weight of packaging and vehicles.
  • They’re key to reaching many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and net-zero emission ambitions.
  • They’re essential in the making of mobile devices, computers, vehicles, airplanes, and solar cells.

Plastic is also the material with the lowest environmental impact for many uses, in most cases with a smaller life-cycle footprint than alternatives like glass, paper, and aluminum. 

At the same time, plastic waste in the environment is a serious challenge, and the industry is already hard at work, rallying scientists and engineers to help solve the problem.


At ExxonMobil’s advanced recycling plant in Baytown, Texas, we’re taking in millions of pounds of discarded plastic and transforming it at the molecular level into raw materials for making new products. The amount we make is freely attributed through a mass balance approach to the plastic we sell as “certified-circular plastics.”

Because our mass balance approach is certified through an independent, third-party system, our customers know their purchases help prevent used plastic from going to landfills or being incinerated. This market exists today. It has many serious participants, and we expect it to keep expanding.

That expansion can happen faster with strong infrastructure for gathering and sorting used plastic. Instead of going to a landfill, it can go to plants like Baytown and be transformed into the building blocks of useful products.

We’re also listening to policymakers and our customers, who want to manufacture more recyclable materials. Today, we make polymers that are lighter, stronger, and more durable, so our customers can use less of them in their products that can be more easily recycled after they’re used.

Big problems require multiple solutions. Let’s not limit ourselves as we convene in Ottawa.

Billions of people benefit from the use of plastics. None of them want to see waste on our roadways, in our forests, or in our rivers and oceans. That’s the problem that needs solving.


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