NPR

Plastic Wars: Industry Spent Millions Selling Recycling — To Sell More Plastic

An investigation from NPR and the PBS show Frontline found oil and gas companies had serious doubts that plastic recycling was viable, but promoted it to keep profits high and plastic bans at bay.
A wall of plastic trash at Garten Services in Salem, Ore., is headed to the landfill. The vast majority of plastic can't be or won't be recycled. Source: Laura Sullivan/NPR

Editor's note: NPR will be publishing stories from this investigative series in the weeks ahead, even as we focus our current coverage on the coronavirus pandemic. But here's a look at some of our key findings. You can watch the full documentary film from this investigation on the PBS series Frontline.


For decades, Americans have been sorting their trash believing that most plastic could be recycled. But the truth is, the vast majority of all plastic produced can't be of plastic has ever been recycled.

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