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Someone on Mastodon linked to this Cory Doctorow piece on Exxon's 50-year lie about the recyclability of plastics, saying that they were only surprised how far back the lie went. And it brought to mind a conversation that has haunted me for almost that long.

My father (now long-estranged) was an Exxon exec, in plastics, for most of his adult life. At some point in the mid-80s, he showed me a HDPE grocery bag, and said it was the future!

I was already mad at him, and a skeptical late teen, and I asked whether it was biodegradable, knowing the answer full well. He told me that was beside the point (silly little girl), and that the future of waste management was incineration. I asked what got released into the atmosphere when it burned. He waved his hand at me: nothing but some carbon and some hydrogen.

I’m no scientist, but even just out of high school I knew that a lot of bad stuff can be made out of carbon and hydrogen.

Anyhow, yes, they knew, they always knew, and they absolutely did not give a shit.


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