Exxon rejects California AG allegations on role in plastic pollution

FILE PHOTO: Logo of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro

By Sabrina Valle and Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp on Friday rejected allegations made by California's Attorney General office on the company's alleged role in causing the global plastic waste crisis.

On Thursday, California's attorney general said he would issue a subpoena to Exxon for information, part of a broader investigation led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta into the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries' role in "causing and exacerbating the global plastics pollution crisis."

Exxon said it works to improve waste management and deploys commercial-scale advanced recycling technology at a major petrochemical facility. The technology converts a broad range of used plastic to raw materials that can be utilized to make new plastic, the company said.

"We are focused on solutions and meritless allegations like these distract from the important collaborative work that is underway to enhance waste management and improve circularity," a spokesperson told Reuters in a written response.

The investigation will resemble ones launched by several state attorneys general into the role that fossil fuel companies played, which focused on what the industry knew decades ago and how companies misled the public about their role.

"For more than half a century, the plastics industry has engaged in an aggressive campaign to deceive the public, perpetuating a myth that recycling can solve the plastics crisis. The truth is: The vast majority of plastic cannot be recycled," Bonta said in a statement.

More than 90% of plastic waste globally ends up in landfills or is incinerated, according to a landmark study in Science Advances. The U.S. recycling rate has never gone higher than 9%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

There is growing momentum to tamp down plastic production as a way to address plastic waste. The UN in February outlined the blueprint of a future treaty that could seek restrictions on production.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)