Coca-Cola and Nestlé among firms responsible for 25% of global plastic pollution

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Danone and Nestlé are among the multinationals responsible for a quarter of the world’s branded plastic pollution, new research shows.

An international team of volunteers carried out the research collecting and analysing data from more than 1,870,000 items of plastic waste across 84 countries over five years.

The majority of the rubbish collected was single-use packaging for food, beverage, and tobacco products. The research found that just under 50% of items were unbranded, so could not be traced back to their manufacturers or packaging company.

Of the branded plastic, just over half was the responsibility of 56 fast-moving consumer goods multinational companies.

Some 11% of the branded litter could be traced back to Coca-Cola, 5% to PepsiCo, 3% to Danone and Nestlé and 2% to the tobacco company Altria, the research shows.

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“The industry likes to put the responsibility on the individual,” said study author, Marcus Eriksen, a plastic pollution expert from The 5 Gyres Institute.

“But we’d like to point out that it’s the brands, it’s their choice for the kinds of packaging [they use] and for embracing this throwaway model of delivering their goods. That’s what’s causing the greatest abundance of trash.”

The Coca-Cola Company told the Guardian: “We care about the impact of every drink we sell and are committed to growing our business in the right way.” 

Nestlé said it has reduced its virgin plastic usage by 14.9% in the last five years, and backs schemes to develop waste collection and recycling schemes.

Danone said: “We continue to strive to reduce our own footprint – between 2018-2023 we reduced our plastic use by 8% equivalent to 62 000 tons.and increased the recyclability of our packaging.”

Last year, it was revealed PepsiCo, Unilever and Danone were teaming up with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as part of its Plastics Initiative to scale returnable packaging.

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