Handful of top brands 'world's top plastic polluters'

Coca-Cola, Nestle and PepsiCo were named by Break Free from Plastics who warned the companies largely avoid cleanup responsibility.

Tens of thousands of pieces of plastic littering the planet come from just a handful of multinational corporations, an environmental pressure group said on Wednesday.

Coca-Cola, Nestle and PepsiCo were named by Break Free from Plastics, a global coalition of individuals and environmental organizations, who warned the companies largely avoid cleanup responsibility.

The coalition’s volunteers collected nearly half a million pieces of plastic waste during a coordinated “World Clean Up Day” in 51 countries a month ago, of which 43 percent were marked with a clear consumer brand.

For the second year in a row, it said, Coca-Cola came out on top, with 11,732 pieces of plastic collected from 37 countries and regions across four continents — more than the next three top global polluters combined.

“Many of them have made commitments that they claim will make their products more sustainable, but largely protect the outdated throwaway business model that got us into this mess in the first place,” said the report, released in Manila.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle were responsible for most pieces of plastic collected.

Others in the top 10 polluters include Mondelez International, Unilever, Mars, P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, Philip Morris and Perfetti Van Mille.

While global consumer brands now acknowledge their role in perpetuating the crisis, the report said they “have been equally aggressive in promoting false solutions to address the problem.”

Promoting recycling is their way of shifting responsibility to consumers, it said. Just nine percent of all plastic produced since the 1950s has actually been recycled, the report said.

It deems single-serve sachets aimed at low-income families that cannot afford bigger volumes of consumer products, as “the most damaging type of plastic packaging.”

It said companies should veer away from promoting “false solutions,” such as recycling and so-called “bioplastics,” and instead transition from a throwaway economy.

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