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World’s top three polluters can be found in our pantries5 min read

December 22, 2020 4 min read


World’s top three polluters can be found in our pantries5 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) conducted an audit to assess who are the biggest contributors to the problem of plastic in the world. The results place Coca-Cola at the top, followed by PepsiCo and Nestle.

Owliver’s Obscure Observations:
BFFP is a global movement that envisions a future free of plastic pollution. It started in 2016. Since then, it has seen participation from 11,000 organisations and individual supporters. The members of the organisation push for policies that make everyone, including large corporations, accountable for their individual plastic consumption. This is also the purpose of the annual audit.

It is startling to know that the things that find space in our pantries can contribute to the earth’s declining health!

Most of the plastic generated by these companies is by way of packaging— the plastic bottles for Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and the plastic sachets for Nestle.

Owliver’s play:
Big companies do not just offer one brand. So, the Coca-Cola Company does not only produce Coca-Cola but also Fanta and Sprite! Similarly, PepsiCo produces Pepsi alongside Lays. And Nestle is not just about beverages but also makes KitKat.

Now, find any of these products in your pantry (if you do not have them at home, Google them!) and notice where all plastic is used in their packaging.
This is just one home (or one product on your Google search).
Imagine what this number would look like when a survey of this magnitude is conducted!

The survey included 57 countries and collected 3,46,496 pieces of plastic waste. 63% of the sample was marked with clear brand. Owing to COVID-19, 13% of the collected sample came from waste that had been discarded indoors. Out of the collected sample, the brand Coca-Cola showed the highest incidence.

The top 10 polluters from the survey (page 30 of the Brand Audit Report by BFFP).

Coca-Cola’s beverage bottles discarded all over beaches, rivers, parks etc. secured it the top spot. In fact, Coca Cola’s total is more than the combined total of PepsiCo and Nestle (on second and third position, respectively).

The top three polluters have been accused of zero-progress made towards reduction in the consumption of plastic. Earlier, this year, representatives at Coca-Cola claimed that the company will not stop using its plastic beverage bottles as its customers are used to it!

What are companies claiming?

Representatives from the BFFP claim that the only way forward is to stop production of plastic, phase out single use of plastic, and promote reuse.

While the numbers prove differently, Coca-Cola claims to be making efforts. Its representatives claim that they are attempting to reuse 100% of their bottles by 2030. It also claims that bottles with 100% recycled plastic are now available in 18 countries. PepsiCo has asserted that they are making amends by working towards a 35% reduction in fresh production of plastic for packaging by 2025.
Nestle further claims that 87% of its total packaging and 66% of its plastic packaging is recyclable or reusable.

That said, BFFP has also spotted issues with these claims.

According to the report, only 9% of all the plastic produced in the world has been recycled. 99% of the plastic produced uses fossil fuels (do you remember what you read about fossil fuels and carbon footprint?). Even if all the corporate commitments were met, the result would merely be a 7% reduction in the plastic flowing into rivers in 20 years. The cost of recycling plastic is higher than producing fresh plastic, making the latter a more lucrative economic decision.

So, we are in a big mess! But BFFP has offered some solutions, too!

What can companies do?

Sourced from Giphy.

Companies need to be more accountable to auditors like BFFP, the Government, and the consumers. There is a need for reinvention to find greener ways to package, and eliminate single use of plastic. The role of investors is huge!
If investors decide to hold back funding for operations that lead to environmental degradation, companies will be forced to rethink their ways.

What do we need to do?

Sourced from Giphy.

Do you remember reading about Kristal Ambrose? We need to be more like her.
Plastic suffocates the earth. The earth cannot be the cost we pay for the taste of a certain soft-drink! As consumers, we have a role to play. We can influence the change. And that does not mean giving up on the things we enjoy but to use them responsibly. While the companies get their act together, let’s start from our homes. Remember the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and implement them in your home. Start from your room. You will be surprised with the potential!

For tips, check out Owliver’s guide to going plastic-free, here.

Image sourced from The Guardian.