By Prarthana Mitra
Just days after the IPCC sounded a dire call to reset the global economy to save the environment, another study highlighted the magnitude of plastic pollution caused by large corporations, holding Coca-Cola, Nestle and Pepsi responsible for 65% of the plastic waste dumped in oceans.
Who conducted the study?
Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle are among the companies that contribute most to ocean pollution with single-use plastics, The “Break Free from Plastic” initiative presented their report on Tuesday, which put plastic production at 320 million metric tonnes per year and projected a 40 per cent increase over the next decade.
The programme, launched in 2016, involved over 10,000 volunteers who participated in 239 coastal cleaning drives across 42 countries, to facilitate a proper disposal of discarded plastics. Between September 9 and 15, they collected more than 187,000 pieces of single-use plastic items, predominantly products by Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Danone, Mondelez, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever, among others.
“These brand audits offer undeniable proof of the role that corporations play in perpetuating the global plastic pollution crisis,” said Von Hernandez, the Global Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic, at the conference in Manila on Tuesday.
Findings and roadmap
The report called for large corporations to take responsibility for the ramifications of plastic production, usage and pollution. Not only does it expose coastal and industrial communities to toxic chemicals, but packaging material made of plastic also contaminate food products. Around 100,000 pieces of plastic collected were made of materials like polystyrene, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or the film of single-use plastic that were not biodegradable, the report said.
According to the report, eighty per cent of the 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic produced since 1950 still exists in the environment, primarily in the water bodies. Only 9 per cent has been successfully recycled and 12 per cent incinerated, proving how difficult it is to decompose plastic.
“The companies have a choice to make. They can be part of the problem or they can be part of the solution,” Hernandez told local media, adding that the use of problematic and unnecessary plastic packaging only results in further pollution and exacerbates the greenhouse effect.
“We must act now to demand that corporate brands reject their overpackaging habit in order to meaningfully reverse the demand for new plastic,” Hernandez said.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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