Plastic: PepsiCo, Nestlé & COP27 Sponsor Coca-Cola Are World’s Top Polluters

"Coca Cola Company has remained the world’s #1 worst plastic polluter by a significant margin," says the report.

Climate Change
3 min read
Plastic: PepsiCo, Nestlé & COP27 Sponsor Coca-Cola Are World’s Top Polluters

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The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Nestlé have been identified as the world’s top plastic polluters over a period of five years, as per a global brand audit report undertaken by Break Free From Plastic.

The report, written between 2018-2022, analyses citizen science trash-collection data, and sheds light on how corporate voluntary commitments are not effectively reducing these companies’ devastating environmental impacts.

"Across this five year period, The Coca-Cola Company has remained consistently the world’s #1 worst plastic polluter by a significant margin. PepsiCo has come in as the #2 top polluter every year except 2019 when it was #3. Nestlé, Unilever, Procter and Gamble, and Mondelēz International have consistently appeared in the top 5 list, with the order shifting slightly year to year," the report reads.
  • A brand audit is a participatory initiative, where citizen scientists count, identify and document the brands found on plastic waste

  • In total, 429,994 pieces of plastic pollution were collected and analyzed to identify the companies generating the most waste

  • Every year, the exact same Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies dominate the list, with The Coca-Cola Company the clear top polluter by a significant margin over all five years

  • The report underlines that after years of greenwashing, corporations have demonstrated they cannot be relied on to bring about systemic change through voluntary commitments


Over 31,000 Coca-Cola Branded Products Found in 2022

The report highlights that a team of 14,760 volunteers across 44 countries have found more than 31,000 Coca-Cola branded products, which is a 63% increase from 2021.

"Brand audits have found increasingly more Coca-Cola products each year, with 2022 results representing more than triple what was found in 2018," it reads.

Further, the multinational's consistent ranking as the worst plastic polluter "flies in the face of recent news that the company has been named an official corporate sponsor of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt."

Greenwashing & Inadequate Climate Solutions

The aforementioned companies, which have immense polluting histories, are also signatories to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastic Economy Global Commitment, to tackle their plastic footprint by 2025 through various voluntary commitments.

However, five years since their conception, the negligible impacts of these commitments call into question their effectiveness and validity of these voluntary initiatives.

The findings have also been denounced as blatant greenwashing by environmental groups, especially given the company’s long history of deflecting blame and avoiding regulation, the report states.

Therefore, in the face of an escalating climate and plastic crisis, there is a grave need for stringent government regulation.

"In 2022, the need to hold corporations accountable for their pollution bears even greater significance as the world’s governments come together to begin negotiations for a Global Plastic Treaty," the report reads.

The Global Plastic Treaty was envisaged in March 2022 as "a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) to End Plastic Pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024."

What About India?

The report also tracked country-wise trends over these five years, with 5,216 volunteers across 34 cities conducting 98 brand audit events.

This is what was found:

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Topics:  Coca Cola   COP27 

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