Nestlé, Tim Hortons named Canada’s top plastic polluters of plastic trash

Much of the plastic trash cleaned up from Canadian shorelines by volunteers in September could be traced back to five companies: Nestlé, Tim Hortons, PepsiCo, the Coca-Cola Company and McDonald’s, an audit of plastic polluters led by Greenpeace Canada has found.

Greenpeace and other environmental advocacy groups working on the international Break Free from Plastic campaign looked for branding on 10,000 litres of food wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic-lined coffee cups and other plastic trash collected in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax during World Cleanup Day on Sept. 15 and counted the results as part of their first Canadian plastic polluters brand audit.

Sarah King, head of Greenpeace Canada’s oceans and plastics campaign, said its first brand audit was in the Philippines last year because the group found that cleanups could only do so much.

“You do a cleanup one day, and the next day the beach is filling up with plastic again,” she said. “We really wanted to look at the companies that were responsible for the bulk of this trash that we were finding on the beaches.”

These are the top 10 plastic items found during shoreline cleanups across Canada on Sept. 15. (Greenpeace Canada)

According to King:

  • Over 75 per cent of the 10,000 litres of trash collected during the Canadian cleanups was plastic.
  • Of that, 2,231 pieces had identifiable branding, and 700 other pieces had branding that couldn’t be identified.
  • Food wrappers were the most common item found, followed by bottles, cups, bottle caps and shopping bags.
  • The top five companies accounted for 46 per cent of the identifiable branded trash.

Many of the companies have multiple brands — for example, Nestlé sells treats ranging from Drumsticks ice cream cones to Aero and Coffee Crisp chocolate bars, along with bottled water under brands such as Aberfoyle and Montclair, and PepsiCo makes Quaker granola bars and Frito-Lay chips.

Volunteers go through food wrappers found on a beach in Vancouver during World Cleanup Day. Food wrappers were the top branded item found. (Amy Scaife/Greenpeace)

When brands were counted instead of the companies themselves, the top offenders, accounting for 40 percent of identifiable trash were, in order:

  • Nestlé Pure Life.
  • Tim Hortons.
  • McDonald’s.
  • Starbucks (the company came 7th overall).
  • Coca-Cola.

Worldwide, Break Free from Plastic member organizations found that the Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Danone, Mondelez International, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Perfetti van Melle, Mars Incorporated and Colgate-Palmolive were the most frequent multinational brands collected in cleanups.

CBC has reached out to the five companies cited in the Canadian audit.

In response, Tim Hortons said in an email that  is working on a packaging strategy that takes into account its environmental footprint.

Nestlé suggested in an email that the real problem was improper disposal, saying the results “demonstrate a clear and pressing need for the development of proper infrastructure to manage waste effectively around the world.”

It added that the company’s goal is to make 100 per cent of its packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025, and it is also exploring packaging solutions with its industry partners to reduce plastic usage and develop new approaches to eliminating plastic waste.

Recyclability not the solution: Greenpeace

King thinks much of the trash found during cleanups may have been disposed of properly, but spilled into the environment by wind or storms.

Based on the Canadian results, she added, it didn’t seem that easily recyclable items, like plastic bottles, were less common than ones that are more difficult to recycle, like coffee cups or food wrappers.

Many of the companies cited have more than one brand. When Greenpeace looked at brands only, both Tim Hortons and Starbucks made the top five. (Amy Scaife/Greenpeace)

She hopes the findings of the audit will have an impact on the companies that were responsible, and get them to recognize that simply making single-use plastics recyclable isn’t the solution.

“We really want the companies to recognize, ‘Look the efforts that you’ve made or that you’re stating that you’re making aren’t good enough.’ You actually have to reduce your production of these products if want to be sure that they’re not going to be ending up in their environment, in our oceans and polluting communities.”

King firmly believes that it’s the companies that make the products that should be responsible, not the consumer.  “We aren’t given a lot of options for buying food and household products in plastic-free packaging,” she said.

She thinks consumers can have the biggest impact by pushing companies for reusable and refillable alternatives to single-use plastic packaging.

. . . Dirk Matten, a professor who holds the Hewlett-Packard Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility at York University’s Schulich School of Business, said he thinks Greenpeace’s audit is a “very skillful and effective” way to address plastic pollution.  “These companies actually use plastic that contributes to this massive problem to deliver their products and, I think by this, are forced to think about a more environmental friendly way of doing this,” he said.

He added that Greenpeace’s report could influence organizations like governments and universities in their purchasing decisions. “To the corporations, I would say don’t fight it,” he said. “Collaborate, address this constructively.” He added that Greenpeace is an international organization with a lot of experience that could be used as a resource in finding solutions.

As for consumers, he says, they should also be disciplined about their use and disposal of these products.

See also:

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https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/greenpeace-plastic-brand-audits-1.4855450?fbclid=IwAR00hJQ0Hy5-NesFlcMLAEwdvAKYfs7kOhgPsb7lcuY1Juq1BgeWsNLF7Zs

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé found to be worst plastic polluters worldwide in global cleanups and brand audits

Plastic Found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch © Justin Hofman / Greenpeace

A Greenpeace diver holds a banner reading “Coca-Cola is this yours?” and a Coke bottle found adrift in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Even hundreds of kilometres from any inhabited land, plastic can be found polluting our environment. © Justin Hofman / Greenpeace

 

“These brand audits offer undeniable proof of the role that corporations play in perpetuating the global plastic pollution crisis,” said Global Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic Von Hernandez. “By continuing to churn out problematic and unrecyclable throwaway plastic packaging for their products, these companies are guilty of trashing the planet on a massive scale. It’s time they own up and stop shifting the blame to citizens for their wasteful and polluting products.”

The audits, led by Break Free From Plastic member organizations[1], found that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Danone, Mondelez International, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Perfetti van Melle, Mars Incorporated, and Colgate-Palmolive were the most frequent multinational brands collected in cleanups, in that order. This ranking of multinational companies included only brands that were found in at least ten of the 42 participating countries. Overall, polystyrene, which is not recyclable in most locations, was the most common type of plastic found, followed closely by PET, a material used in bottles, containers, and other packaging.

The top polluters in Asia, according to the analysis, were Coca-Cola, Perfetti van Melle, and Mondelez International brands. These brands accounted for 30 percent of all branded plastic pollution counted by volunteers across Asia. This year’s brand audits throughout Asia build upon a week-long cleanup and audit at the Philippines’ Freedom Island in 2017, which found Nestlé and Unilever to be the top polluters.

“We pay the price for multinational companies’ reliance on cheap throwaway plastic,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines Campaigner Abigail Aguilar. “We are the ones forced to clean up their plastic pollution in our streets and waterways. In the Philippines, we can clean entire beaches and the next day they are just as polluted with plastics. Through brand audits, we can name some of the worst polluters and demand that they stop producing plastic to begin with.”

In North and South America, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé brands were the top polluters identified, accounting for 64 and 70 percent of all the branded plastic pollution, respectively.

“In Latin America, brand audits put responsibility on the companies that produce useless plastics and the governments that allow corporations to place the burden, from extraction to disposal, in mostly vulnerable and poor communities,” said GAIA Coordinator for Latin America Magdalena Donoso. “BFFP members in Latin America are exposing this crisis  and promoting zero waste strategies in connection with our communities.”

In Europe, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé brands were again the top identified polluters, accounting for 45 percent of the plastic pollution found in the audits there. In Australia, 7-Eleven, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s brands were the top polluters identified, accounting for 82 percent of the plastic pollution found. And finally, in Africa, ASAS Group, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble brands were the top brands collected, accounting for 74 percent of the plastic pollution there.

“These brand audits are putting responsibility back where it belongs, with the corporations producing endless amounts of plastics that end up in the Indian Ocean,” said Griffins Ochieng, Programmes Coordinator for the Centre for Environment Justice and Development in Kenya. “We held cleanups and brand audits in two locations in Kenya to identify the worst corporate polluters in the region and hold them accountable. It is more urgent than ever, for the sake of communities that rely on the ocean for their livelihoods, health and well-being, to break free from plastic.”

Bread Free From Plastic is calling on corporations to reduce their use of single-use plastic, redesign delivery systems to minimize or eliminate packaging, and take responsibility for the plastic pollution they are pumping into already strained waste management systems and the environment. While the brand audits do not provide a complete picture of companies’ plastic pollution footprints, they are the best indication to date of the worst plastic polluters globally.

 

Notes:

For the entire set of results, please find Break Free From Plastic’s brand audit report here: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/globalbrandauditreport2018/

[1] Break Free From Plastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 1,300 groups from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. These organizations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision. www.breakfreefromplastic.org

Photo and video:

For photo and video from brand audits around the world, click here: https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJWQQ88P

 

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Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé found to be worst plastic polluters worldwide in global cleanups and brand audits

 

Contacts:

Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist: +1 301 675 8766, perry.wheeler@greenpeace.org

Shilpi Chhotray, Break Free From Plastic Senior Communications Officer: +1 703 400 9986, shilpi@breakfreefromplastic.org

Claire Arkin, GAIA Campaign and Communications Associate: +1 510-883-9490, claire@no-burn.org

Greenpeace International Press Desk: +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org

  

Why aren’t the bottles Coca-cola uses 100% recycled?

If you care so much, Coca-cola, why aren’t your bottles 100% recycled?

Coca-Cola sells more than 100bn single-use plastic bottles a year – that’s more than 3,000 every second. Its plans to increase recycled plastic in its bottles to 50% are startlingly unambitious.

Coca-Cola’s grand announcement on plastic packaging is a lot of PR fizz. But when you look at the detail, it’s all a bit flat.

The news that the company is to increase the amount of recycled plastic in its bottles to 50% shows a startling lack of ambition from the soft-drinks giant to tackle one of the greatest environmental challenges facing us: the plastic pollution choking our oceans.

Turns out when Coca-Cola’s distinctive bottles turn up on beaches, and contribute to the rubbish truck of plastic (pdf) entering the ocean every minute, that isn’t so good for brand image.

The soft drinks giant has come under attack for its meagre recycled content and failure to move away from single-use packaging that is devastating marine life.

This new plan is no game changer. Limited to operations in the UK, Coca-Cola’s plans amount to increasing its existing target for recycled content by a mere 10%, launching yet another public awareness campaign to keep the focus on litterers, and trialling what appears will be little more than a promotional scheme for buying more Coca-Cola bottles.

The company’s plans, which it says it will reveal later this year, may feature a money-off voucher scheme to reward customers returning small Coca-Cola bottles to shops. This would be a cheap gimmick to try and move the story on from Coca-Cola’s major U-turn on deposit return schemes after Greenpeace revealed the company had been lobbying against these in Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels. If the vouchers can be redeemed on yet more plastic Coca-Cola bottles, this will only boost the already staggering global plastic bottle sales of a million a minute.

[One thing that doesn’t seem to get discussed are the plastic bottle labels, which readily come off and end up littered on beaches.]

It’s also worth pointing out that Coca-Cola’s mildly higher goal to source 50% recycled content should be taken with a pinch of salt given the company’s history of failing to keep its promises. Coca-Cola got less than half way to meeting its global 2015 target to source 25% of its plastic bottles from recycled or “renewable” material, for example plant-based plastics. Globally the company reached a pitiful 7% recycled material.

Even putting these doubts aside, is reaching 50% recycled content in three years’ time significant? The truth is that 100% recycled bottles are feasible and have been rolled out for a number of soft drinks products over the past decade. In 2007, for example, Suntory’s Ribena became the first major UK soft drink brand to use 100% recycled plastic. Coca-Cola, the world’s biggest soft drinks company, is lagging far behind.

Featured image:  Coke bottles found by Greenpeace volunteers on a beach in Mull.

READ FULL ARTICLE AT:  If you care so much, Coke, why aren’t your bottles 100% recycled?

By John Sauven, Guardian Sustainable Business

July 13, 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/13/coca-cola-plastics-pollution-oceans-bottles-packaging-recycling-pr-fizz-greenpeace-john-sauven?CMP=share_btn_fb