Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and environmental sustainability are words that cannot seem to go together. The trio of brands have been dubbed the world’s worst plastic pollution contributors for the second consecutive year, This finding was the result of a recent global audit conducted on various brands.
Other companies on the list are, Solo Cup Company and Colgate-Palmolive. In the USA, Nestlé was named as the country’s worst polluter. The Solo Cup Company and Starbucks were also named as well.
According to the audit, company promises to make products “100% recyclable” were not helping. In fact, only 9% of plastic produced was actually recycled around the world. According to the audit, the rest is normally incinerated, sent to landfills, or is littered about.
In fact, the global coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement admitted that recycling is no long a viable option.
“This report provides more evidence that corporations urgently need to do more to address the plastic pollution crisis they’ve created. Their continued reliance on single-use plastic packaging translates to pumping more throwaway plastic into the environment,” he said. “Recycling is not going to solve this problem.”
In spite of corporation promises to improve, a number of design flaws remain. Greenpeace’s Southeast Asia plastic campaign coordinator, Abigail Aguilar, is of the opinion that companies offer “false solutions” to the plastic problem.
One supposed shortcut is, designing plastic that’s either low-quality or has chemical additives or hard-to-separate layers. All of these factors make it impossible to recycle.
So, even if materials can be reused, they often have a significantly lower value. Other practices Aguilar called out as “false solutions” included replacing plastic with paper or bioplastics.
“These strategies largely protect the outdated throwaway business model that caused the plastic pollution crisis,” she said. “And (they) will do nothing to prevent these brands from being named the top polluters again in the future.”
For the audit, over 72,540 volunteers visited more than 51 countries to conduct 484 brand audits. Volunteers found over 475,000 pieces of plastic trash and cataloged over 8,000 different brands in their audits.
Major companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo recently announced plans to reduce plastic waste. A few months ago, both companies even cut ties with a prominent plastic lobbying group. Still, their track record continues to show high waste produced. So, what does this mean?
For Coca-Cola, volunteers recorded more than 11,732 plastics from 37 different countries. Alone, Coca-Cola accounted for 2.5% of the total plastic waste collected.
Coca-Cola insisted that they were working to reduce plastic pollution and help with cleanup efforts.
“Any time our packaging ends up in our oceans—or anywhere that it doesn’t belong—is unacceptable to us. In partnership with others, we are working to address this critical global issue, both to help turn off the tap in terms of plastic waste entering our oceans and to help clean up the existing pollution.”
Unfortunately, every minute, a million plastic bottles are sold globally. Every day, the plastic pollution crisis seems to grow. However, by pressuring companies for more transparency and genuine commitment to their sustainability goals, significantly reducing plastic waste may not be so impossible after all.