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The Oil Crash Created a Recycled Plastic Trap

Royal Dutch Shell Plc's Russian Oil Lubricants Blending Plant
Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

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A few months ago—before the pandemic stopped economies in their tracks—the biggest sustainability issue seemed to be plastic. Over the past several years, companies have rushed to make commitments to source recycled plastic. The idyllic “waste-free economy” was a hot topic at Davos. Danone pledged its Evian water bottles would be made of 100% recycled content. PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and L’Oreal all promised to increase recycled plastic in their packaging.