WORLD / CROSS-BORDERS
Bank lending to plastics industry faces scrutiny as pollution concerns mount
Published: Jan 07, 2021 06:38 PM
Banks have provided $1.7 trillion of finance to 40 companies in the plastics supply chain without imposing any requirements to tackle plastic pollution pouring into the world's rivers and oceans, according to a report published on Thursday.

With European and US banks increasingly spurning the most polluting fossil fuel projects to help slow climate change, campaigners want lenders to take a similar approach to plastics by making loans conditional on measures to boost recycling.

A detail of microplastics along the Schiavonea beach, transported by the Ionian sea during the last sea storm. The force of the sea storm lifted the microplastics from the seabed and carried it to the beach on March 2, 2019. Photo: VCG

"What the financial sector needs now is someone to step forward and say 'okay, we're going to take a look at plastics,' and then others will follow," said Robin Smale, director of Vivid Economics, a consultancy, which audited the report.

Compiled by Portfolio.earth, a research network, the report ranked Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co as the three biggest financiers of plastics between January 2015 and September 2019. 

Each bank provided from $144 billion to $172 billion in loans and underwriting to companies from chemicals, packaging and drinks manufacturers to retailers, the report found.

Barclays and HSBC were ranked as the largest plastics financiers among European peers, extending $118 billion and $96 billion respectively.

Public concerns over plastic have risen in recent years, as scientists have discovered contamination in once pristine environments from ocean depths to the Arctic.
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