Coke And Pepsi Named The World’s Top Corporate Plastic Polluters

Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been named the most polluting brands in the world as part of a global audit of plastic waste conducted by the Break Free From Plastic movement, and the Intercept reports that Coke was far and away the biggest plastic polluter on the planet:

“The giant soda company was responsible for more plastic litter than the next top three polluters combined.”

The audit was conducted by enlisting volunteers to look for plastic waste on beaches, waterways, and streets, according to EcoWatch:

“72,000 volunteers … collected bottles, cups, wrappers, bags and scraps during World Clean Up Day on Sept. 21. After sorting through the collected debris, the researchers identified 50 different types of waste traced back to nearly 8,000 different brands. Coke was the most counted product at 11,372 identifiable pieces of plastic litter in 37 countries.”

When the plastic waste was assembled and counted, the volunteers collected 476,423 pieces of plastic waste, leading Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement, to remark:

“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. Recycling is not going to solve this problem.”

In response to the audit, Coke issued a statement:

“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.”

Sadly, only 9 percent of plastic is recycled. The vast majority it winds up in landfills, burned in incinerators, or dumped in the ocean.

The report from the Break Free From Plastic movement urges cities adopt zero-waste policies and recommends other possible solutions to the growing problem of plastic waste:

“It also suggested brands set up a delivery system for refills, that people use traditional packaging like banana leaves, and that consumers to use their own reusable materials.”

Coca-Cola has recently begun addressing the problem of plastic waste by offering Dasani water in aluminum cans and a plastic bottle composed of marine waste. Coke and Pepsi have both pledged to put their products in recyclable, reusable, or compostable containers by 2025, but both Break Free From Plastic and Greenpeace have been critical of those efforts, with Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia plastic campaign coordinator, noting:

“Recent commitments by corporations like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo to address the crisis unfortunately continue to rely on false solutions like replacing plastic with paper or bioplastics and relying more heavily on a broken global recycling system. These strategies largely protect the outdated throwaway business model that caused the plastic pollution crisis, and will do nothing to prevent these brands from being named the top polluters again in the future.”

And while Coke says it wants to fight the problem of plastic waste, their actions speak louder than their words:

“Leaked audio obtained by The Intercept showed how Coke-funded organizations undermine bottle bills. Meanwhile European environmentalists closely aligned with the advocates who conducted the global brand audit say that the company has been interfering with their efforts to combat plastic pollution.”

Featured Image Via Flickr

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Andrew Bradford

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