IPEN International Pollutants Elimination Network

At talks on cutting plastics pollution, plastic credits are on the table. What are they?

Two groups that want reduced plastics production published a report Friday highly critical of plastic credits, calling them a flawed tool that won’t help with worldwide pollution from the material.

The groups — Break Free From Plastic and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives — said the credits often amount to corporate greenwashing. They issued their report in Nairobi on the sidelines of United Nations-led negotiations for a treaty aimed at cutting plastics pollution.

They analyzed publicly available databases of two prominent proponents of plastic offsetting, the accreditor Verra and the Plastic Credit Exchange marketplace. Their report cited “serious flaws” in financing, transparency and basic auditing, and said credits being issued for plastic incinerated in cement kilns were substituting one form of pollution for another.

Environmentalists argue that issuing credits for plastic burned in incinerators and cement kilns encourages that burning — thus putting more toxic chemicals into the environment.

“Plastic credits create a new problem because the pollutants become more spread out and they’re invisible,” said Yuyun Ismawati, senior advisor of Nexus3 Foundation and plastic advisor for the International Pollutants Elimination Network Plastic. Ismawati is advocating for communities in Indonesia who are affected by pollution from a plastic credits project there.

Environmental policymakers see plastic credits as a tactic for companies that rely on single-use plastic to avoid changing their business models.

Read the full story from the Associated Press.