Coca-Cola has been named as the world’s worst plastic polluter for the third consecutive year by Break Free From Plastic.

In their annual audit of plastic waste found in public and residential areas across the world, Break Free From Plastic engaged 14 734 volunteers in 55 countries to conduct 575 brand audits. These volunteers collected 346 494 pieces of plastic waste, 63% of which was marked with a clear consumer brand.

Over 5000 brands were catalogued in this year’s global audit, and their analysis revealed the following as the 2020 Top 10 Global Polluters:

– The Coca-Cola Company

– PepsiCo

– Nestlé

– Unilever

– Mondelez International

– Mars, Inc.

– Procter & Gamble

– Philip Morris International

– Colgate-Palmolive

– Perfetti Van Melle

“The title of Top Global Polluters describes the parent companies whose brands were recorded polluting the most places around the world with the greatest amount of plastic waste,” reads the audit.

“Our 2020 Top Global Polluters remain remarkably consistent with our previous brand audit reports, demonstrating that the same corporations are continuing to pollute the most places with the most single-use plastic. Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo have remained our Top Three Global Polluters every year since our first global brand audit in 2018.”

Coca-Cola emerged as the top global polluter for the third time in a row. A total of 13 834 branded Coca-Cola plastics were recorded in 51 countries, reflecting more plastic than the next two top global polluters combined.

These results amount to a significant increase, as Break Free From Plastic recorded 2102 more branded Coca-Cola plastic items in 14 more countries in 2020 than in last year’s global brand audit.

“The Break Free From Plastic movement is calling on companies to urgently reduce the amount of single-use plastic they use. The top polluters must reveal how much single-use plastic they use, then set clear, measurable targets for reducing the quantity of single-use plastic items they produce. Finally, they must reinvent their product delivery systems to move beyond single-use plastic altogether,” Break Free From Plastic concluded.

Research by Changing Markets Foundation has also found Coca-Cola to be the biggest plastic polluter in the world, leaving a plastic footprint of 2.9-million tonnes per year.

“While, on the surface, Coca-Cola has committed to a ‘World Without Waste’, the report shows that over the last 30 years, it has continuously broken, delayed or shifted the goalposts on most of its impressive-sounding targets,” the Foundation wrote in their ‘Talking Trash’ report.

“In 1990, for example, the company committed to having 25% recycled content in their bottles, but 30 years later they are only at 10%. At the same time, the company has fiercely opposed progressive legislation that would help them to achieve these commitments, from deposit return systems (DRS) to redesign obligations.”

Speaking to The Independent, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola said the company was “making progress” on plastic waste, and have committed to get every bottle back by 2030 so that they can recycle them into new bottles.

Picture: Pexels

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