Categories: EnvironmentNews

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo named world’s top plastic polluters for fourth straight year


 Unilever, Nestle, P&G, Mondelez, Phillip Morris, Danone, Mars, ,  and Colgate-Palmolive, also featured in the list.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have once again been named as the world’s top plastic polluters in the latest environmental audit report.

The Break Free From Plastic’s audit report “BRANDED Volume IV:  Holding Corporations Accountable for the Plastic & Climate Crisis”, listed Unilever – a principal sponsor for the upcoming COP26 climate conference – as the third biggest plastic polluter.

The organisation drew on data from more than 11,000 volunteers across 45 countries participating in over 440 beach cleanups.

Overall, more than 330,000 pieces of plastic were collected from the coastlines of which a staggering 20,000 products were Coca-Cola branded- more than the next two worst polluters – PepsiCo and Unilever – combined. 

This is the fourth consecutive year Coca-Cola has topped the list.

PepsiCo, has been in the top three for the third consecutive year now.

Meanwhile, Unilever has risen to become the third top polluter this year since global brand audits began in 2018.This finding has been branded as ‘ particularly insulting’, given the firm’s involvement at the COP26.

 Neil Tangri is the Science and Policy Director of GAIA. He said: “Despite their promises to do better, the same corporate polluters make the brand audit list year after year. It is clear that we cannot rely on these companies to do the right thing. It’s time for governments to step up and enact policies to reduce waste and hold producers accountable.”


Plastic impact on climate change

Plastic pollution is not only one of the world’s biggest sources of landfill waste, coastline and shoreline pollution as well as wildlife and biodiversity degradation, it is also a major proponent of the climate crisis. 99% of all plastic is currently made from fossil fuels. 

Abigail Aguilar is the Plastics Campaign Regional Coordinator for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. Commenting on the results, she said: “It’s not surprising to see the same big brands as the world’s top plastic polluters for four years in a row.

“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.”

Recent studies have exposed that these top firms behind the plastic pollution crisis are also exacerbating the climate crisis.

According to Greenpeace, consumer goods brands like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Mondelēz, Danone, Unilever, Colgate Palmolive, Procter & Gamble, and Mars, reportedly all buy packaging from manufacturers supplied with plastic resin by well-known petrochemical companies such as Aramco, Total, Exxon, and Shell. 

“To stop this mess and combat climate change, multinationals like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Unilever must end their addiction to single-use plastic packaging and move away from fossil fuels,” Aguilar added.

Clock is ticking

Tackling the plastic waste crisis is so critical that leading health and environmental experts warned that the planet only has 9 years left before “irreversible” damage is done. 

Over 300 organizations across 76 countries have addressed an open letter to COP26 ambassadors calling for a shift away from fossil fuel extraction and plastic production, and an investment in zero waste alternatives.

Tangri added: “Reducing plastic production is the only sure way to reduce plastic pollution, but our analysis of nationally determined contributions to the Paris Agreement (NDCs) shows that very few countries have made serious commitments to do so.

“Current investments in expanded plastic production mean that plastic will take upwards of 13% of the 1.5°C carbon budget by 2050.

“If world leaders do not take bold action to reduce plastic production, there is no way that we will meet the 1.5°C target and avoid climate catastrophe.”

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