Polluters Bury their Heads in the Sand Instead of Committing to Reduce their Plastic Footprint

Polluters Bury their Heads in the Sand Instead of Committing to Reduce their Plastic Footprint


Nusa Dua (Bali, Indonesia), October 29th Today at the Our Ocean conference, corporations are yet again refusing to take responsibility for their role in creating and perpetuating the plastic pollution crisis.

At a side-event organised by Ocean Conservancy and Circulate Capital, companies exposed as the world’s Top Polluters by the recent #breakfreefromplastic brand audit report committed funds to a new “catalytic capital fund” to “solve” the plastic pollution crisis. Coca-Cola, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and PepsiCo all in the top 10 of corporate brands found on plastic pollution worldwide sat alongside Dow, one of the world’s largest producers of plastic, as self-identified “frontrunning” corporate leaders working to tackle plastic pollution through improved waste management and technology.

Global #breakfreefromplastic Coordinator Von Hernandez states, “Plastic is pollution the minute it is made. The problem with plastic pollution is not one of waste management or ocean leakage; rather, the problem is that there is simply too much plastic being pushed upon us by industry than can be safely and properly dealt with. In any crisis, the most important action is how you address the source of the problem.”

The very corporations pushing these inadequate solutions are at the same time pumping an overwhelming amount of plastic into markets across the world with no responsibility or intention for the plastic after its initial use.

If these companies are serious about addressing plastic pollution, they must significantly decrease and ultimately eliminate single-use plastics.  For a start, these corporations should disclose publicly the amount of plastic each of them is pushing into local markets and waste management systems across the world, and accept regulations instead of making weak, voluntary commitments. This ‘catalytic capital’ would be better invested in alternative delivery systems for products which don’t require single-use or plastic overpackaging. (See Leadership Challenge to Corporate Plastic Polluters of #breakfreefromplastic)

Experts on the ground in cities and communities  have already innovated on zero waste solutions to improve local collection and waste prevention systems, and expose problematic products. Examples can be found around the world in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, across Europe, the US for a fraction of the cost. For example, one zero waste project in the Philippines averages at $2.30 per person per year.3

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) has estimated that an initial influx of $30 million could provide zero waste programs for the entire Metro Manila area over two years. Corporations should be investing capital to support and replicate these solutions.

As the major contributors to the plastic pollution crisis, these companies should pursue true innovation in plastic reduction, instead of the same inadequate waste management approaches. Only then will we truly #breakfreefromplastic.




  1. ‘Branded: In Search of the World’s Top Corporate Plastic Polluters’  details the results of 239 cleanups in 42 countries on 6 continents. The report was released on October 9, 2018. http://bit.ly/brandauditreport2018
  2. On the eve of the 2018 Our Ocean Conference, the #breakfreefromplastic movement has released a challenge to the Top Polluters identified in the global brand audit to pursue real solutions to the plastic crisis, not the same hollow commitments and empty gestures. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2D6YhVN
  3. http://www.no-burn.org/whatawaste2-0/

#breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 1,300 organizations 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.


  1. Jed Alegado, +63917-6070248, jed@breakfreefromplastic.org
  2. Sherma Benosa, +63920-9038511, sherma@no-burn.org
  3. Claire Arkin, +1 9734444869, claire@no-burn.org
  4. Matthew Franklin, +44 7923 37 38 31,  matt@breakfreefromplastic.org



Corporate Leadership Badly Needed to Reverse Plastic Pollution Crisis

Corporate Leadership Badly Needed to Reverse Plastic Pollution Crisis


Bali, Indonesia (October 28, 2018) — On the eve of Our Ocean Conference 2018, the global #breakfreefromplastic movement challenged corporations to  demonstrate real leadership to reverse the plastic pollution crisis instead of making more hollow commitments and empty gestures, which only tend to perpetuate the problem.

“To put an end to the plastic pollution crisis, corporations need to step up with meaningful, game-changing and  authentic measures that would significantly reduce their plastic footprint and move our societies away from the scourge of  single-use, throwaway and problematic plastic packaging,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of #breakfreefromplastic.

Movement leaders asserted that corporations have the ability and resources to solve the problem if they want to, but lamented that no large company has yet had the courage to implement serious plastics reduction policies and institute new delivery systems that do not rely on disposable, throwaway plastic.

A recently published Greenpeace report highlights that plans by 11 of  the world’s biggest fast-moving consumer goods corporations (FMCGs)  actually allow for an indefinite increase in their use of single-use plastics,  with no company planning to put the brakes on the growing production and marketing of single-use plastics.  

The four companies that reported the highest sales of single-use plastic products (Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Danone) were also the top four brands identified in a recent global Break Free From Plastic brand audit report following 239 plastic pollution cleanups in 42 countries.

“If we allow these corporations to carry on with business as usual, global plastic production will continue to rise, further aggravating the plastic pollution crisis. We need them to commit to  ambitious plastics use reduction targets. The planet needs real solutions. The time for greenwashing is over,” said Graham Forbes of Greenpeace.

“It is ironic that the  companies whom our brand audits have identified as topnotch polluters are the same companies who typically relish sponsoring beach cleanups. The planet would be better served if they would clean up their acts instead.” said Jane Patton, who coordinated #breakfreefromplastic’s most recent brand audits.

For her part, Delphine Lévi Alvarès, Coordinator of the Rethink Plastic alliance said, “this week, the European Parliament has shown that it is possible to take strong legislative action on plastic pollution. As governments start taking responsibility for resolving this crisis, so too must corporations! Given the scale of the problem, we can no longer rely on voluntary and arbitrary  targets coming from corporations.”

Warning of false solutions promoted by companies to greenwash their image and wash their hands of responsibility for the crisis, the global movement issued a Leadership Challenge to fast-moving consumer companies, which includes demands to:

  • Reduce (their) single-use plastic production and usage with a clear action plan and timeline and transparently reporting  on their plastic footprint ;
  • Invest in alternative product delivery systems, while disincentivising single-use, throwaway packaging;
  • Reject false and unproven solutions like thermal waste-to-energy incineration, plastic to fuel schemes, chemical recycling and other regrettable replacements;
  • Collaborate with retailers, governments and NGOs to create scalable solutions to plastic pollution – including support for ambitious legislation that rewards plastics reduction and penalizes plastics overuse.

According to the World Economic Forum, up to 12 million tonnes of plastic, often single-use items including packaging,  enter the sea from land every year. With plastic production expected to increase by 40% in the next decade, making it almost impossible for waste management and recycling schemes to keep up.

Multinational consumer brands have been flooding Asian countries with single-use plastic packaging, despite knowing that the resulting waste will inevitably  pollute these terrestrial and marine environments in the region,

“Despite the best efforts of our kelurahan (villages) to compost and recycle as much as they can, we are still left with waste that are beyond our capacity to manage. We call on companies to eliminate or redesign these problematic products and packaging and for the Indonesian government to ban straws, plastic bags, styrofoam, sachet, and microbeads,” Yuyun Ismawati from Alliance Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) emphasized.

Groups belonging to AZWI have been demonstrating zero waste solutions for  communities across Indonesia, with a focus on waste prevention, segregation and composting.

The annual Our Ocean Conference brings together representatives of governments, civil society, science, finance and businesses from around the world to discuss ocean protection and pledge commitments. //ends


Break Free From Plastic is a global movement of more than 1,400 member groups and thousands of individuals united around a common goal: to bring systemic change through a holistic approach that tackles plastic pollution across the entire plastics value chain, focusing on prevention rather than cure and on providing effective solutions.

Contact: Jed Alegado

             #breakfreefromplastic Asia Pacific Communications Officer



European Parliament takes historic stand against single-use plastic pollution

European Parliament takes historic stand against single-use plastic pollution

National governments must follow suit, say campaigners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Strasbourg, 24/10/2018

The European Parliament has leapt forward to protect people and the environment from plastic pollution, and national governments must now show the same ambition, according to the Rethink Plastic alliance.

An overwhelming majority in the European Parliament voted today to strengthen the European Commission’s plan to cut pollution from single-use plastic items. [1] The Parliament voted to ban some of the most problematic throwaway products, such as expanded polystyrene food containers, and to ensure producers are held accountable for the costs of single-use plastic pollution. For fishing gear, one of the largest contributors to marine litter, harmonised standards will be developed and minimum collection and recycling targets will be set at the EU level. [2]

“The European Parliament has made history by voting to reduce single-use plastics and slash plastic pollution in our rivers and ocean” said Justine Maillot, EU Affairs Project Officer at Surfrider Foundation Europe on behalf of Rethink Plastic. “Citizens across Europe want to see an end to plastic pollution. It’s now up to national governments to keep the ambition high, and resist corporate pressure to continue a throwaway culture.”

However, campaigners are disappointed that the full Parliament did not adopt a ban on very light-weight single-use plastic bags supported by the Environment committee.

A leaked letter recently exposed how major plastic polluters such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Danone are lobbying national environment ministers to water down the directive. [3]

Representatives of EU national governments are expected to meet later this month to agree on their joint position, and the three-way negotiations between governments, the European Parliament, and the European Commission could then start as soon as early November.



[1] European Commission steps forward to cut on single-use plastics – but it’s just the beginning, Rethink Plastic alliance

[2] The measures adopted include:

  • A EU-wide ban of single-use plastic cotton buds, straws, plates and cutlery (with exemptions until 2023), beverage stirrers, balloon sticks, oxo-degradable plastics and expanded polystyrene food containers and cups
  • An obligation for EU countries to adopt measures to achieve a 25% reduction of the consumption of food containers and cups for beverages
  • An obligation for EU countries to reduce post-consumption waste from tobacco product filters containing plastic by 50 % by 2025 and 80 % by 2030,
  • Extended Producer Responsibilty (EPR) schemes that include the cost of clean up and awareness raising measures
  • Harmonised standards and an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for fishing gear, as well as a 50% collection target and a 15% recycling target for fishing gear by 2025
  • An obligation to separately collect 90% of beverage containers and ensure they are produced from 35% recycled content by 2025
  • An obligation to prevent the use of hazardous chemicals in the composition of sanitary items
  • An obligation to label products to inform consumers about the presence of chemicals of concern in certain single-use plastic products

These measures apply to all single-use plastics listed in the Annexes including bio-based and biodegradable plastics.

[3] Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle attempt to water down new plastics laws, leaked letter reveals, The IndependentDrinks giants rail against EU bottle cap plan, Euractiv

Innovate, don’t Incinerate! Environmental Justice Groups Call on Int’l finance Institutions to Support Zero Waste Solutions

Innovate, don’t Incinerate! Environmental Justice Groups Call on Int’l finance Institutions to Support Zero Waste Solutions

Bali, Indonesia, 12 Oct 2018 — Today, over 400 organizations and individuals in more than 50 countries called on international financial institutions (IFIs) meeting this week in Bali, Indonesia, to stop funding waste incinerators, and instead prioritize projects that focus on Zero Waste solutions.

The call came ahead of the Global Infrastructure Forum on 13 October where 10 IFIs and the UN have organized a meeting to discuss their take on the world’s infrastructure agenda. Environmental groups are submitting a global petition to oppose the recent trend of so-called development financing that has seen the aggressive promotion of waste incinerators in the Global South.

“Although our country is hosting this year’s conference, we refuse to host an incineration plant that will maintain a linear economy and systematically destroy our nation’s precious resources,” says David Sutasurya, Executive Director of Yayasan Pekembangan Biosains dan Bioteknologi (YPBB). “Many Indonesian cities are already pursuing Zero Waste initiatives, which are proven to be a sustainable and actionable approach to solving our country’s waste problems. The banks should support such efforts instead of harmful end-of-pipe systems.”

A key focus of the forum is to mobilize partners’ financial resources to fund infrastructure projects for developing countries, particularly from the private sector.

Many concerned civil society groups are keeping a close and vigilant watch on IFIs because of the troubling legacy of negative environmental and social impacts their projects and policy advice have had on communities and citizens, particularly in the Global South. Many of these IFIs are funded by industrialized countries who wield a strong influence on the policies of poorer nations.

A key concern about the infrastructure financing of these banks are their focus on massive centralized waste incinerators or the so-called “waste-to-energy” facilities, which has had devastating consequences for the climate, human health, and local economies.

Many of these IFIs already funded or promoted waste incinerators in countries in the global South.

“Environmental justice groups around the world are asking development banks to stop funding incineration because it is bad for public health, bad for the environment, bad for the climate and bad for the economy, jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of waste pickers around the world,” says Niven Reddy, Regional Coordinator for GAIA Africa. “Incineration has proven to be a failed model in the Global North and should not be peddled in the Global South.”

In Europe, the EU has put another nail in the coffin for incinerators: the waste legislation implementation report published by the EC last month instructed countries to introduce measures to phase out residual waste treatment including, among others, incineration. Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director of Zero Waste Europe states, “Support for Incineration is fading and it is agreed that it is not part of the Circular Economy plan of the European Union. EU policymakers are focusing instead on supporting reduction, reuse and recycling. IFIs should learn from Europe’s mistakes and stop promoting waste incineration in other parts of the world.”

A recent World Bank report (What A Waste 2.0) confirms that decades of incineration has not helped decrease global waste volumes, but instead has abetted the global waste crisis.

This year’s Global Infrastructure forum comes at a time when the world is grappling for urgent solutions to address escalating waste volumes and the worsening climate change impacts brought on by reckless consumption,” said Lea Guerrero, Climate and Clean Energy Campaigner at GAIA Asia Pacific. “Waste incineration is part of the unsustainable system that has led the planet to the brink of the waste and climate catastrophes. Multilateral banks that purport to enable sustainable development should no longer fund waste incineration and should instead enable countries to transition to an economy where the conservation of natural resources and Zero Waste is prioritized.”

For example, the Asian Development Bank promotes and funds incinerators in Asia[i]; IBRD (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, part of World Bank), is funding and supporting incinerators in South America; and African Development Bank promotes and funds the construction of medical waste incinerators all over the continent.

[i] https://www.adb.org/projects?terms=waste+to+energy



Sherma Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific, sherma@no-burn.org, +63 917 8157570

Claire Arkin, Campaign and Communications Associate, GAIA, claire@no-burn.org, 510-883-9490 ext: 111

Brand Audit Q+A with Alkis Kaftetzis, Greenpeace Greece

Brand Audit Q+A with Alkis Kaftetzis, Greenpeace Greece

Q&A with Alkis Kaftetzis

Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace Greece

Charakas beach, Southeastern Evoia


1. What excites you most about the #breakfreefromplastic brand audit?

The narrative of everything being the consumer’s fault is very much ingrained in the mind of a lot of people. Big brands are very rarely included in the picture of who is responsible. The brand audit manages exactly to address this very important issue, putting the blame back to the ones who are truly addicted to single-use plastic.

Plastic pollution has an identity and it is branded by the global brands that have flooded our lives and the environment with their plastic packaging. The results of this mind blowing global effort will help the movement change the way plastic pollution is approached. ‘Cleaning up beaches’ is not enough and is tackling the problem superficially. We need more radical solutions and we need the companies to acknowledge this fact.


2. Give us a snapshot of the brand audit you coordinated.

We picked a secluded beach in central Greece, far away from any human activities and open to the Aegean. It is called Charakas, that in Greek means ruler, so jokingly the team said it will provide a good measurement of our wasteful lifestyle and unfortunately the amount of plastic waste we found there was devastating. In two days and with the help of around 100 volunteers, we managed to collect more than 20.000 litters of waste, enough quantity to fill 4 trucks.

While cleaning we also realized that the damage was irreversible. A huge amount of plastic had already broken into tiny pieces that we couldn’t pick up, covering entirely big parts of the sand and becoming part of the ecosystem there. The locals that participated in the clean up effort invited us to visit this beach in a few months, to see that it will be again filled with plastic.

In order to make the problem as visible as possible we carried a truckload of the plastic we collected back to Athens. With it we staged a public brand audit at the central square of the city, exposing the biggest polluters and providing with people a clear image that the oceans need our help.

Break Free From Plastic Brand Audit Greece

3. Tell us about your data!

We audited 3000 pieces of plastic, the majority of which were bottles and bottle lids for bottled water and soda drinks. Our champion polluter was Coca Cola, owning a little bit more than 10% of the branded plastic waste. We found a lot of waste from Turkey (around 20%) but also some plastic travellers from India, Ghana and South Africa. Who knows how they ended up in Greece.


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