Coca-Cola’s Pollution Unhindered by Plastics Pledge, Audit Indicates

(Credit: Pixabay)

by | Oct 25, 2021

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(Credit: Pixabay)

The organization behind a new report claims that the Coca-Cola Company’s pledge to collect one bottle for every one sold is not having a big impact on its plastic waste. The company is being called out for having contributed more plastic pollution globally than the next two companies combined, according to a Break Free From Plastic report. The global Brand Audit says it found more than 20,000 discarded Coca-Cola branded products and claims the company has outdistanced other polluters in similar ways since 2019.

PepsiCo is said to be the second “worst polluter” and Unilever was third on the list; Break Free From Plastic commissioned global beach cleanups by more than 11,000 volunteers in 45 countries to analyze plastic waste in its 2021 Brand Audit.

Coca-Cola products were found in 39 countries and the company has had the most waste recorded every year the audit has been performed. Break Free From Plastic first released the report in 2018.

PepsiCo joined Coca-Cola as one of the top two plastic polluters on the list for the third consecutive year. More than 8,200 pieces of Pepsi plastic waste were found by the audit.

Break Free From Plastic says Pepsi will also need a more ambitious shift to reusable containers despite recent commitments to cut its use of virgin plastic in half by 2030.

Pepsi has announced several sustainability goals, including its pep+ plan for a company-wide strategic transition, including its 2030 plastics goal. It is also part of an effort to use bottles produced from enzymatically recycled plastic.

“The world’s top plastic polluting corporations claim to be working hard to solve plastic pollution, but instead they are continuing to pump out harmful single-use plastic packaging,” says Emma Priestland, Break Free From Plastic’s global corporate campaigns coordinator.FMCGs need to reveal the extent of their plastic footprint, reduce it significantly by setting and implementing ambitious targets, and reinvent their packaging to be reusable and plastic-free. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Unilever should be leading the way in finding real solutions.”

The Break Free From Plastic report says plastic production results in 108 million tons of carbon emissions annually and Coca-Cola’s plastic production alone amounts to 14.9 million metric tons of emissions. According to a World Wildlife Fund report, the cost of greenhouse gas emissions over the lifecycle of plastics is $171 billion and the lifetime societal cost of plastics is $7.1 trillion.

As part of the audit, 440 brands were looked at and 330,493 pieces of plastic were collected. Break Free From Plastic says 58% of the plastic collected was marked with a clear consumer brand.

More than 6,000 pieces of plastic from Unilever were found. Nestle and Procter & Gamble rounded out the top five worst plastic polluters according to the audit.

Procter & Gamble recently joined the Climate Pledge and also has announced plans to test a paper bottle. Unilever was on a list of sustainability leaders according to a survey released earlier in 2021.

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