This year’s Break Free From Plastic’s brand audit – “BRANDED Vol III: Demanding Corporate Accountability for Plastic Pollution” — an annual citizen action initiative that involves counting and documenting the brands on plastic waste found in communities across the globe, collected 346,494 pieces of plastic from 55 countries. This year’s audit also looked at the work of informal waste pickers, predominantly in the global South and impact low value single-use plastic has on their livelihoods.
Abigail Aguilar, Plastics Campaign Regional Coordinator, Greenpeace Southeast Asia says, “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. These companies claim to be addressing the plastic crisis yet continue to invest in false solutions, while teaming up with oil companies to produce even more plastic. The world’s top polluting corporations claim to be working hard to solve plastic pollution but instead they continue to pump out harmful single-use plastic packaging. 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”.
The latest report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation suggests these corporations have ‘made zero progress’ in addressing the plastic pollution crisis, according to Break Free From Plastic. It says single-use plastic has ‘devastating effects’ not only on the earth but for frontline communities around the world. Waste pickers and community members in the Global South are witnessing the rapid escalation of low-grade single-use plastic packaging.
Break Free From Plastic says multinational corporations need to take ‘full responsibility’ for the ‘externalised cost’ of their single-use plastic products, such as the costs of waste collection, treatment and the environmental damage caused by them. The world’s top polluting corporations claim to be working hard to solve plastic pollution but instead are continuing to pump out harmful, single-use plastic packaging. We need to stop plastic production, phase out single-use and implement robust, standardised reuse systems. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé should be leading the way in finding real solutions.”
In September the plastics industry, consumer brands and retailers were accused of ‘obstructing and undermining’ proposed legislative solutions to the plastic crisis in what has been called ‘two-faced hypocrisy’ (‘Talking Trash: The Corporate Playbook of False Solutions’ from the Changing Markets Foundation).
In response, Coca-Cola said “While we recognize the progress we’ve made against our 2030 World Without Wastegoals, we’re also committed to do more and faster, so that we grow our business the right way. We launched the first bottle containing recycled plastic (rPET) in 1991 and had a global goal of 25% rPET inclusion in our plastic bottles that we could not sustain, a missed opportunity we will learn from. We are confident about our current World Without Waste goals, despite them being more ambitious than our previous targets. Learning from past experience, engaging in new and existing partnerships – including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – and our commitment to make a difference in the communities where we operate, will help us achieve our ambitions. Our “World Without Waste” goals drive us to continually improve, working together with our approximately 225 bottling partners in more than 200 countries and territories. Currently bottles with 100% recycled plastic are available in 18 markets around the world and growing. In recent weeks, the local Coca-Cola businesses in Norway and Netherlands announced that they are now using 100% rPET across their portfolio. In Great Britain we are preparing to announce we have reached 50% rPET across our packaging, another step in our journey to 100% rPET in all our packs.”