A director of UK energy firm Ineos has described a campaign by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall about plastic on Scottish beaches as “pretty pathetic”.
Tom Crotty said the chef had taken a simplistic view on plastic in his BBC documentary, War on Plastic.
Ineos’ plant in Grangemouth has been accused of adding to plastic waste on local beaches, which the firm denies.
Mr Crotty was speaking as Ineos announced a $2bn (£1.6bn) investment in Saudi Arabia.
Ineos is run by chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who is Britain’s third richest man,
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mr Crotty was asked about Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall’s new documentary about plastic which in one episode looks at plastic washed up on beaches near Grangemouth, in Scotland.
It reported that campaigners link “nurdles” – used in the plastic production process – washed up on local beaches with the Grangemouth plant.
Mr Crotty said he had spent time with the TV chef ahead of the documentary and he was “pushing an agenda”.
“One of the facts, had he asked, is we have analysed the stuff that gets washed up on beaches around Scotland and the material is not ours. It comes from deep ocean washing-up,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate because plastic does so much good in the world. Taking simplistic views that says plastic equals bad is pretty pathetic really,” he said.
“What you need to do is say plastic waste is bad, how do we stop that,” Mr Crotty said.
He said Ineos was investing millions on new recycling plastic technology.
“We want waste plastic back because we think we can do good things with it. It’s not a waste it’s valuable raw material,” Mr Crotty said.
Mr Crotty also defended Ineos’ investment in Saudia Arabia, saying the firm had taken advice from the government before it announced its first ever manufacturing plants in Saudi Arabia after the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.
“We believe there is a process of change going on in Saudi Arabia, that now is a good time for us to get involved because we think investment is what will lead to fuelling that process of change and modernisation in Saudi Arabia,” said Mr Crotty.
The deal follows an agreement with the Kingdom’s state oil company Saudi Aramco and French energy firm Total.
Ineos said the facilities would produce chemicals for sectors such as automotive, aerospace and electronics.
Sir Jim called it “a major milestone that marks our first investment in the Middle East”.
“We are bringing advanced downstream technology which will add value and create further jobs in The Kingdom.”
Ineos has also been holding exploratory fracking tests in Britain, but recently complained that tough regulations were making it unviable for firms.
Sir Jim argued ministers had given in to a “vocal” minority of environmental campaigners, despite fracking being “extremely safe and well proven”.
“I think the government has been pathetic on the subject, frankly – honestly, I do,” Mr Ratcliffe said at the time.
In May, the pro-Brexit businessman also rejected reports about him allegedly leaving the UK to live in Monaco for tax purposes.
The billionaire said Ineos had invested £2.5bn in the UK over the last 20 years, and that he had “never made a penny of profit in the UK”.
“I have made lots of money in the US, Germany and Belgium, but am I supposed to go and live there? It’s my private affair,” he told the BBC.