Shareholders of Phillips 66 Voted for More Openness

A resolution asking the organization to publish a report explaining, among other things, how it could transform its plastic production business from virgin to recycled plastic polymers.

Plastics
Phillips 66, a Houston-based oil corporation, has approved a resolution calling for greater openness in the company’s plastics production. During a recent meeting, 50.4 percent of the shareholders voted for increased openness, according to As You Sow, a Berkley, California-based charity.

The resolution demands that Phillips 66 issue a plastic report outlining how it plans to transition its plastic manufacturing business from virgin to recycled polymers. It also asks the corporation to evaluate the resilience of its petrochemical assets under five and ten-year virgin-to-recycled transition scenarios, as well as the financial risks involved.

Chevron Phillips Chemical Company is jointly owned by Phillips 66 and Chevron Phillips (CPChem). CPChem is the 15th largest global producer of virgin plastic resins for single-use purposes, according to data released in the Plastic Waste Makers Index.

CPChem sets a target to eliminate plastic waste in its 2020 sustainability report. The corporation was also one of the first large petrochemical companies in the United States to establish a goal of producing recycled plastic polymers. As You Sow, on the other hand, claims that its projected expansions of virgin plastic manufacture are three times more than its recovered plastics goal. By 2030, CPChem’s recycled plastics goal is expected to displace less than 8% of its virgin plastic production volume.

“Petrochemical businesses that are serious about ending or combating plastic pollution cannot justify the continued and rapid increase of virgin plastic manufacture,” says Joshua Romo, As You Sow’s energy and plastics associate. “We hope that this majority vote will prompt the company to review its exposure to the single-use plastic supply chain and provide investors with information on how it plans to mitigate transition risk as the world transitions away from virgin and single-use plastics,” said the group.

Plastic pollution, according to experts, may be approaching an irreversible tipping point. The environmental, climate, and human health costs of the plastic lifecycle are at least 10 times more than the market price of plastics. Single-use plastics are at the heart of the plastic pollution problem, accounting for the majority of ocean-bound plastic waste.

The Pew Charitable Trusts and Systemiq collaborated with worldwide experts to develop As You Sow’s resolution, which is based on peer-reviewed research. It was discovered that existing technology can cut ocean plastic pollution by 80 percent by 2040. This transition is predicated on a global shift to recycled plastics, which has tripled demand for recycled content while reducing virgin demand by one-third, largely for virgin single-use plastic.

“While the plastics industry frequently discusses the need to transition to a circular economy for plastics, American petrochemical companies have not adequately addressed the necessity for or potential impacts of a rapid transition away from virgin plastics,” says Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president at As You Sow. “In fact, as CPChem has proved, several big plastic polymer makers are continually expanding virgin plastic manufacturing.”

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest producer of single-use plastic polymers, is currently considering a similar plan. Exxon’s annual meeting will vote on it on May 25.

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