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Debating the plastics problem

May 29, 2020, 10:24 AM UTC

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Good morning.

Since it’s Friday, some feedback.

The word “plastics” still carries the punch it did in Dustin Hoffman’s day–although for different reasons. I wrote about the plastics pollution problem this week, and got enough email to pack a landfill. A sampling:

“Thanks for spreading the awareness about plastics. It is virtually impossible to eliminate plastic from our lives, but it is relatively easy to avoid one of the biggest offenders of single use plastic—beverages. There are plenty of alternatives like aluminum, glass and paper… Will you consider taking the pledge and helping us spread the word?”

“Until we recognize that the global plastic ocean pollution problem isn’t largely caused in the U.S. where we have excellent trash management practices, but in other nations with poor practices where we enjoy the lower costs of those practices. How much more would be willing to pay for our iPhones made in Asia if the cost of managing the trash in the countries where they are made was incorporated into that cost?”

“I would like to think that the Alliance to End Plastic Waste is sincere—but believing that based on a $1.5b investment is false hope. You didn’t mention that they currently have $250b+ invested in a massive global expansion of petrochemicals for plastic production. Without any real plan for how to deal with all the single use plastic waste.”

And separately, Fortune is taking submissions for our annual Change the World list, which is focused on companies that have made measurable progress addressing social problems or needs. You can find past honorees here—and note that multiple companies on that list have been recognized for addressing the plastic waste problem. If you want to recommend a company, you may do so here.

News below.

Alan Murray


Twitter vs Trump

Having already put a fact-checking notice next to tweets from Donald Trump in which the president inaccurately referred to "substantial" mail-in voting fraud—a move that triggered an executive order about social network liability—Twitter has now stated that a newer Trump tweet broke its rules by glorifying violence. The tweet in question, in which Trump appears to threaten protestors with shooting, will stay up—but with a public interest notice alongside it, and people won't be able to like, reply or retweet it without a comment. Twitter: "It is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance." P.S.: Mark Zuckerberg doesn't think social networks should fact-check politicians. Fortune

ECB money printer

Economists polled by Bloomberg expect the European Central Bank to step up its emergency asset purchases next week—most think there will be a top-up of $550 billion. Pantheon Macroeconomics' Claus Vistesen: "[Updated economic projections will] crystallize the grim reality for the euro zone…The ECB will use that to further lift its asset purchases, and commit to an extension beyond December 2020.” Bloomberg

Renault cuts

Renault is looking to cut a whopping 14,600 jobs around the world, to help find $2.2 billion in savings over the next few years. Interim CEO Clotilde Delbos: "We thought too big in terms of sales." The French auto giant will cut its global production capacity from 4 million vehicles in 2024 to 3.3 million, and will focus on electric vehicles and small vans. BBC

Hong Kong

Hong Kong's pro-Beijing government has told the U.S. to keep out of the debate over the imposition of Chinese national security legislation on Hong Kong. If the U.S. rescinds the financial hub's special economic status, the government warned, the move could backfire on the U.S. economy. "Any sanctions are a double-edged sword that will not only harm the interests of Hong Kong but also significantly those of the U.S.," it said. President Trump is due to announce his response to the extension of the Chinese law later today. Reuters


Musk payout

Elon Musk has received the first of his incentive-based stock option payouts, worth around $775 million at Tesla's current share price. This initial tranche is a reward for keeping Tesla's market cap at $100 billion on a 30-day and six-month trailing average. Musk's stake in his company is now at 20.8%. CNBC

Dollar stores

Dollar stores are doing pretty well in the pandemic, despite having no big e-commerce operations. Why? Partly their presence in markets too small to support a Walmart or Target. GlobalData Retail MD Neil Saunders: "This ‘localness’ was a major advantage during the crisis when many households were reluctant to travel too far, and some were nervous about visiting big-box stores where it is very difficult to reduce dwell time." Fortune

Bypassing retailers

PepsiCo and Kraft Heinz are among the food giants that have started selling their wares directly to online shoppers, during the pandemic. The strategy allows them to cut out the middleman, but the executives behind it say the aim is not to make more money—rather, to learn more about e-commerce and to get data on customers that would normally be harvested by the retailer. Financial Times

Apple accusation

Bluetooth tracker maker Tile has made an allegation to the European Commission that Apple has unfairly disadvantaged its products. The claim alleges that Apple changed its iOS operating system to give Apple an advantage as it prepared to launch a product similar to Tile's. Washington Post

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.