Exposed: Big Oil lobbies Trump Administration to expand plastics across Africa

by Kate Melges

August 31, 2020

A new exposé by Greenpeace UK reveals that the American Chemistry Council is lobbying to use the upcoming US-Kenya trade deal to expand plastics across Africa. 

Breaking on Sunday in the New York Times: A new exposé by Greenpeace UK’s investigative journalism platform “Unearthed” reveals that the American Chemistry Council (ACC) — the lobbying group that counts Shell and Exxon among its members — is lobbying the Trump Administration during COVID-19 to use the upcoming US-Kenya trade deal to expand plastics across Africa. 

Read the exposé

This means that the American Chemistry Council is pushing the Trump Administration to include terms in the upcoming US-Kenya trade agreement making it easier to export plastic to Kenya.

Using this trade agreement to expand plastics would be disastrous for Africa! And undo the hard fought progress that Kenya and other African states have made to address plastic pollution. Kenya passed one of the toughest laws on the production, sale, and use of plastic bags in 2017, and recently expanded on it to outlaw plastics in protected areas.

The ACC wrote to US Trade Representative officials, stating, “Kenya could serve in the future as a hub for supplying U.S.-made chemicals and plastics to other markets in Africa through this trade agreement.”

In a separate letter to the Chairman of the US International Trade Commission, the ACC states that the trade agreement will be an “important model” for other African states. The letter reads, “With this foothold, the United States can play an influential role in shaping trade policy across Africa,” and that it will enable the US to “build a platform for U.S. chemical manufacturers to expand exports to enter new growth markets throughout sub-Saharan Africa.”

It is obvious that the petrochemical industry views Africa as the next frontier for plastics and Kenya as the doorway to build new petrochemical and plastic markets that will have harmful impacts on African communities that have been working to phase out single-use plastic.

And the American Chemical Council isn’t fooling anyone. They want to flood Kenya with plastic, and then sell plastic recycling as the solution to more plastic in Africa. Data shows that plastic recycling is broken with most single-use plastics never ending up recycled but instead harming our oceans and communities!

We can’t allow this to happen! Africa is at the forefront of the war on single-use plastic packaging and it cannot afford to see its progress reversed with a plastic boom. Add your voice today to say NO ACC lobbying in the US-Kenya trade agreement.

Thanks for taking action!




Kate Melges

By Kate Melges

Kate Melges is an oceans campaigner based in Seattle. She leads Greenpeace’s Ocean Plastics work. Kate’s focus is ending the flow of plastic pollution into the ocean.

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