“These companies claim to be addressing the plastic crisis, yet they continue to invest in false solutions while teaming up with oil companies to produce even more plastic.”
Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé have been named the world’s top plastic polluters for the third year in a row.
The three food giants have been accused of “zero progress” on reducing plastic waste in Break Free From Plastic’s annual audit.
World’s No 1 plastic polluter
The audit, carried out by 15,000 volunteers around the world, targets the largest number of plastic products from global brands found in the highest number of countries.
This year they rounded up 346,494 pieces of plastic waste, 63% of which was marked clearly with a consumer brand.
Coca-Cola was ranked the world’s No 1 plastic polluter after its beverage bottles were the most frequently found discarded on beaches, rivers, parks and other litter sites in 51 of 55 nations surveyed.
While Coca-Cola’s branding was found on 13,834 pieces of plastic, the Nestlé branding was spotted on 8,633 items while PepsiCo was on 5,155.
“The world’s top polluting corporations claim to be working hard to solve plastic pollution, but instead they are continuing to pump out harmful single-use plastic packaging,” said Emma Priestland, Break Free From Plastic’s global campaign coordinator.
“Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé should be leading the way in finding real solutions to reinvent how they deliver their products,” she said.
Other brands that came in the top 10 list include:
- Mondelez International
- Mars, Inc.
- Procter & Gamble
- Philip Morris International
- Perfetti Van Melle
‘Must end single-use plastic packaging’
“It’s not surprising to see the same big brands on the podium as the world’s top plastic polluters for three years in a row,” Abigail Aguilar, plastics campaign regional co-ordinator of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said in a statement.
“These companies claim to be addressing the plastic crisis, yet they continue to invest in false solutions while teaming up with oil companies to produce even more plastic.
“To stop this mess and combat climate change, multinationals like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé must end their addiction to single-use plastic packaging and move away from fossil fuels.”
91% plastic is not recyclable
According to a 2017 study, up to 91% of all the plastic waste ends up polluting the environment since it cannot be recycled.
In its report, Break Free From Plastic said: “Only nine per cent of all the plastic ever made has been recycled, yet … [producers] continue to hail recycling as the ultimate solution to combating the plastic pollution crisis.
“However, most single-use plastic simply can’t be recycled or it’s just not economical to do so, especially when the cost of virgin plastic is very low.”
Working to address packaging waste
Despite being pulled up for plastic pollution in the previous years, Coca-Cola announced it would not abandon plastic bottles, since they were popular with customers.
In a September report, the Changing Markets Foundation found that Coca-Cola produced 2.9 million tonnes of plastic packaging a year, the largest volume of any company.
However, disputing the claim of it not making progress, Coca- Cola said it was working to address packaging waste and has also pledged to make its products with 50% of recycled material by 2030.
PepsiCo has promised to reduce the use of virgin (unrecycled) plastic content by 35 % by 2025 whilst Nestlé has said it’s aiming to make all of its packaging reusable or recyclable within the next five years.
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