But Trump’s plastics boosterism comes at a time when corporate America — from Google to Coca-Cola and beyond — is trying to appear more in line with environmentalists, at least attempting to associate their names with less plastic and more recycling.
It’s the latest in a very long line of examples of progressive change in the era of Trump being driven not just from outside the White House, but in spite of it.
Trump took personal credit Tuesday for a new plastic manufacturing plant being built by Royal Dutch Shell in Pennsylvania. Never mind that it had been planned since 2012 and built with the promise of more than $1 billion in tax credits from state taxpayers. That didn’t stop Trump from using it to push Pennsylvanians to support his reelection.
The plant will use a byproduct of fracking to produce pellets used in the production of many different kinds of plastic, including those that make cars lighter and more fuel efficient and in wind turbines, a point the Trump administration has echoed. Further reading: The New York Times documented how the plant is part of a larger effort to bring manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt, and the Pittsburgh TV station WTAE published a fascinating investigation that used customs records to determine that tens of thousands of tons of foreign steel was used to construct the plant despite the abundance of steel in Steeler country.
Those are separate issues from plastics, however
The problem with plastic
While plastic allows important technological developments, it also leads to a lot of waste when single-use bags and straws are discarded. They don’t biodegrade like other substances and they end up in the ocean and landfills.
Asked about whether there’s too much plastic in the world before he was set to speak Tuesday at the new plant that will manufacture plastics, Trump pointed the finger at other countries.
“You must be aware of all the reports that say the world is awash in plastic and the last thing it needs is more plastic,” a reporter said. ” What’s your feeling on that?”
His answer was to blame China, but also to make clear that in his mind, plastics are OK.
“Well, we have tremendous plastics coming over from Asia, from China, and various others,” he said. “It’s not our plastic. It’s plastic that’s floating over in the ocean and the various oceans from other places. No, plastics are fine, but you have to know what to do with them. But other countries are not taking care of their plastic use and they haven’t for a long time. And the plastic that we’re getting is floating across the ocean from other places, including China.”
Trump actually does have an anti-plastic waste accomplishment he could point to. He signed a bipartisan bill to combat garbage and plastic in the ocean, the Save Our Seas Act. At the event where he signed it, however, he managed to not utter the word “plastic.”
He doesn’t talk about that bill much anymore either. He’s much more likely to mock renewable energy efforts, or wrongly say wind turbines cause cancer.
Meanwhile, on his official reelection website, his campaign is doing its best to troll liberals by selling 10-packs of plastic Trump straws.
“Liberal paper straws don’t work. STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP and buy your pack of recyclable straws today,” says the site.
Which points out they are reusable and recyclable. The campaign has raised more than $450,000 from them, it told Politico in July.
But it’s not just liberal cities trying to ban bags and cut down on plastic straws.