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Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and Nestlé are ranked as the world’s top plastic polluters for the third consecutive year according to Break Free From Plastic‘s report “BRANDED Vol III: Demanding Corporate Accountability for Plastic Pollution” released Dec. 2, during a virtual press conference.
This year, Break Free From Plastic’s brand audit — 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. In addition, this year’s brand audit takes a special look at the essential work of informal waste pickers, predominantly in the Global South, and the impact low value single-use plastic has on their livelihoods.
“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,” said Abigail Aguilar, Plastics Campaign regional coordinator, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
In the latest report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it was made clear that these corporations have made zero progress in addressing the plastic pollution crisis. Single-use plastic has devastating effects not only on our 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 being aggressively placed in the market by major multinational corporations.
“Corporations rely on informal waste workers to collect their packaging, allowing them to meet sustainability commitments and justify their use of high quantities of single-use plastic packaging. Yet the current shift to lower value plastic packaging is threatening the livelihoods of the waste pickers, who cannot resell such low-grade items. The systems that waste pickers operate in must change,” said Lakshmi Narayan, co-founder of of SWaCH Waste Picker Cooperative in Pune, India.
Multinational corporations need to take full responsibility for the externalized cost of their single-use plastic products, such as the costs of waste collection, treatment and the environmental damage caused by them. If business as usual continues, plastic production could double by 2030 and even triple by 2050. Time is running out.
“Top polluters are complicit in damaging frontline communities and continuing to pump out packaging that damages people’s health, wealth and environment. We need a just transition off of fossil fuels, and towards a circular economy,” said Anna Cummins, co-founder of 5 Gyres.
“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. 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,” said Emma Priestland, global corporate campaigns coordinator, Break Free From Plastic.
Published with permission from Break Free From Plastic.