For the third straight year, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle have been named and shamed as the world’s three biggest brands producing plastic waste.
Given all the negative publicity and heightened awareness-raising around plastic polluters in recent times, you might think that such a dishonour would push even the most hard-faced corporations into mending their ways.
But in this case, apparently not.
Campaign group Break Free From Plastic, which has authored its third annual Brand Audit Report investigating the sources of plastic waste, has instead accused these companies and others of making “zero progress” on an issue they claim to be on board with.
The Break Free From Plastic audit is a massive undertaking that saw close to 15,000 volunteers in 55 countries collect around 350,000 pieces of plastic waste in a bid to identify and tally the sources. The waste recovered was largely litter found in parks, on streets, by roadsides, on beaches and in other public places.
Which Brand Is the Biggest Plastic Polluter in 2020?
Of the 63% of items that were clearly marked with a consumer brand, Coca-Cola was by far and away the worst culprit, with 13,834 items found in 51 different countries.
This is after the soft drink giant earlier this year reaffirmed its commitment to single-use plastic bottles on the grounds that ‘consumers still want them’. Ironically, Coca-Cola has also been sold in glass bottles since 1894, but it persists with plastic regardess.
Nestle came second in the hall of shame in terms of number of items found, with 8,633 pieces of plastic rubbish bearing the Swiss multinational’s imprint. But PepsiCo waste – like Coca-Cola, mainly single-use plastic bottles – was more widespread, with 5,155 items found in 43 countries to the 37 Nestle waste was found in.
Unilever was another prominent name on the list, again with slightly more items found than even PepsiCo but in the same number of countries as Nestle.
Ironically, Unilever boasts about creating a ‘circular economy’ on its website. Its progress so far seems to be swapping out one kind of plastic packaging for another on a few of its products.
This report underlines the extent to which the battle against plastic waste, and especially single-use plastic, is a battle against some of the world’s biggest corporations who have a vested commercial interest in sticking to plastic packaging, with scant regard to alternatives like recycled plastic, or the environmental consequences of ocean plastic on our food chain.
Will Brands Find an Alternative to Plastic?
In that regard, we can only agree wholeheartedly with the words of Abigail Aguilar, Plastics Campaign Regional Coordinator, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, one of the partners involved in the Break Free From Plastic campaign. Commenting on the report’s findings, she said:
“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 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.”
Support Plastic Free Brands
Are you ready to break free from plastic? Simple changes like swapping plastic straws to steel straws, or buying reusable water bottles for days out, can help to reduce waste and improve the situation for our marine life.
By supporting independent, plastic free brands, we can send companies like Coca-Cola a signal that we won’t support manufacturers who continue to dump thousands of tonnes of plastic into our seas.