The Multinational Monitor

December 2002 - VOLUME 23 - NUMBER 12

T H E    L A W R E N C E    S U M M E R S    M E M O R I A L   A W A R D


The December 2002 Lawrence Summers Memorial Award* goes to Wang Yung-ching, founder and chair of Formosa Plastics Group.

"I hate waste," Wang told the New York Times. "A case in point is that when some people go to the restroom, they grab a bunch of pieces of toilet paper," he said. "If you only need one piece of toilet paper, why grab two or three?"

Wangís company produces 2.6 million tons a day of polyvinyl chloride, the most environmentally damaging of plastics from manufacture to disposal. Formosaís Point Comfort, Texas facility alone produced 177 million pounds of toxic waste in 2000, the most recent year for which data is available.

Source: Keith Bradsher, "An Industrialist at 86 Retains a Vision: Plastics," New York Times, November 21, 2002. Thanks to Joe DiGangi for forwarding this item.

*In a 1991 internal memorandum, then-World Bank economist Lawrence Summers argued for the transfer of waste and dirty industries from industrialized to developing countries. "Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs (lesser developed countries)?" wrote Summers, who went on to serve as Treasury Secretary during the Clinton administration. "I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that. ... I've always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly under polluted; their air quality is vastly inefficiently low [sic] compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City." Summers later said the memo was meant to be ironic.