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Nestlé’s plastic monster spews pollution at company’s U.S. headquarters

Nestlé’s plastic monster spews pollution at company’s U.S. headquarters

Washington, DC – Greenpeace activists joined a 15-foot tall monster in a visit to Nestlé’s U.S. headquarters in Arlington, VA today (link to be updated with photo and video), delivering Nestlé plastic pollution gathered from streets, rivers, and beaches across the country and demanding that Nestlé take responsibility for the over 1.5 million metric tons of single-use plastic it produces annually. The delivery was part of a global day of action against the company, which includes activities in Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Canada, and the Philippines.

“It’s time for Nestlé to end its reliance on single-use plastics and move toward systems of reuse,” said Greenpeace Plastics Campaigner Kate Melges, who helped return the plastics to the company. “Nestlé has created a monster by producing endless quantities of throwaway plastics that persist in our environment for lifetimes. It’s time for the company to own its mess and stop pushing false solutions that will never solve this crisis.”

At Nestlé’s U.S. headquarters, activists arrived at the building alongside the monster, and asked to speak with a company representative. The monster then repeatedly spewed Nestlé plastic pollution gathered from across the country. Activists left the building, leaving behind the plastic pollution for the company to take responsibility for.

Nestlé has started to acknowledge the impact of its throwaway plastics in recent months, but has failed to act with the urgency or ambition needed to address its role in the global plastic pollution crisis. Nestlé was named one of the worst three plastic polluters following 239 cleanups and brand audits in 42 countries last October. The company was also named the worst plastic polluter following 2017 and 2019waste and brand audits in the Philippines. Nestlé sells non-recyclable sachets throughout Southeast Asia that frequently end up polluting waterways and our oceans.

Earlier in the day, activists accompanied a 65-foot long and 20-foot high monster to Nestlé headquarters in Switzerland, demanding accountability for its global plastic pollution. The action in Switzerland followed a 7-week long Greenpeace ship tour from the Philippines to Unilever headquarters in the Netherlands, and then on to Nestlé. The tour has called attention to the impacts of companies like Unilever and Nestlé’s plastic pollution, particularly to communities in the Global South.

“The consequences of Nestlé’s heavy reliance on sachets and single-use plastic packaging, especially in the Global South, can no longer be denied,” said Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement. “It is unconscionable for a multibillion dollar company to be shifting the burden of what is essentially unmanageable waste to developing countries, and then argue that they are trying to help the poor. We never asked for this pollution, and we never wanted to see our oceans ravaged by throwaway plastic. We want Nestlé to be accountable and clean up its act by reducing its plastic footprint and investing in alternative delivery systems immediately.”

Greenpeace activists joined a 15-foot tall monster in a visit to Nestlé’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia delivering Nestlé plastic pollution gathered from streets, rivers, and beaches across the country and demanding that Nestlé take responsibility for the over 1.5 million metric tons of single-use plastic it produces annually. “It’s time for Nestlé to end its reliance on single-use plastics and move toward systems of reuse,” said Greenpeace Plastics Campaigner Kate Melges, who helped return the plastics to the company. “Nestlé has created a monster by producing endless quantities of throwaway plastics that persist in our environment for lifetimes. It’s time for the company to own its mess and stop pushing false solutions that will never solve this crisis.

Last week, activists interrupted the company’s AGM by confronting executives with plastics found polluting the world’s oceans. Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan urged Nestlé executives and shareholders at the AGM to show true leadership to solve the plastic pollution crisis, stating:

“People can see with their own eyes the damage plastic pollution is doing to our oceans, waterways and communities. We’ve all witnessed the way plastic is contaminating our precious biodiversity and are only just beginning to understand how it is impacting us … It’s time for Nestlé to really take some responsibility for the magnitude of its contribution to the problem: it must be transparent and put forward a concrete action plan, with ambitious timelines, on how to reduce the production of throwaway packaging and invest in truly sustainable refill and reuse delivery systems.”

Additional information about Nestlé’s plastic pollution footprint can be found here: https://www.greenpeace.ch/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Nestle%CC%81-A-giant-plastic-problem.pdf

Photos from the action at Nestlé’s U.S. headquarters are available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/greenpeaceusa09/sets/72157708181133464

Additional photo and b-roll footage will be available here later today: https://www.media.greenpeace.org/shoot/27MZIFJWZW23G

Photo and video from actions on Nestlé around the globe are available here: https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJWG2RA3

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Contacts:

Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, +1 301 675 8766

For interviews on the ground in Virginia: Myriam Fallon, +1 708 546 9001

 

‘Plastic Soup:’ Photos and Q&A with author of new book documenting plastic pollution and solutions

‘Plastic Soup:’ Photos and Q&A with author of new book documenting plastic pollution and solutions

  • Earth’s oceans are drowning in plastic. Humans created 311 million metric tons of the stuff in 2014, and it is expected that we’ll be making four times as much by 2050 — yet only about 5 percent of plastic is currently recycled. It’s been estimated that 8 million metric tons of the plastic that goes to waste is dumped into our oceans every year — which is equivalent to a full garbage truck of plastic being dumped into the oceans every minute.
  • In a series of stunning photos and informative graphics, new book Plastic Soup: An Atlas of Ocean Pollution documents the plastic pollution crisis engulfing Earth’s seas, the impacts of that pollution on wildlife and people, and initiatives that have been created to tackle the problem.
  • The book, set to be published tomorrow by Island Press, was written by Michiel Roscam Abbing, a political scientist who reports on the latest scientific research around plastics for the Plastic Soup Foundation. Mongabay spoke with Abbing via email to get a sneak peek at what’s in the book, including a handful of its most compelling images and graphics.

Earth’s oceans are drowning in plastic. Humans created 311 million metric tons of the stuff in 2014, and it is expected that we’ll be making four times as much by 2050 — yet only about 5 percent of plastic is currently recycled. It’s been estimated that 8 million metric tons of the plastic that goes to waste is dumped into our oceans every year — which is equivalent to a full garbage truck of plastic being dumped into the oceans every minute.

In a series of stunning photos and informative graphics, new book Plastic Soup: An Atlas of Ocean Pollution documents the plastic pollution crisis engulfing Earth’s seas, the impacts of that pollution on wildlife and people, and initiatives that have been created to tackle the problem.

plastic soup
Plastic Soup: An Atlas of Ocean Pollution is out April 4 via Island Press. Image courtesy of Island Press.

Microplastics have been found in the guts of marine mammalssea turtle hatchlings, and humans around the globe, and plastic water bottles and snack-food packaging have even been found in the deepest parts of the oceans, at depths of nearly 11,000 meters or 36,100 feet.

Plastic Soup looks at a variety of sources of plastic pollution and the harm it causes, from the microplastics in cosmetics that so frequently leak into fragile ecosystems to the impacts of balloon releases on wildlife. But the book is also intended as a message of hope, highlighting a number of projects that have been created and actions people can take to help reduce plastic waste.

The book, set to be published tomorrow by Island Press, was written by Michiel Roscam Abbing, a political scientist who reports on the latest scientific research around plastics for the Plastic Soup Foundation. Mongabay spoke with Abbing via email to get a sneak peek at what’s in the book, including a handful of its most compelling images and graphics.

Mongabay: How did you come up with the idea for Plastic Soup?

Michiel Roscam Abbing: Since 2011 I have worked for the Plastic Soup Foundation, a Dutch NGO dedicated to fighting plastic pollution. We cover all kinds of plastic soup news items on plasticsoupfoundation.org. We started to think about a book on the topic a few years ago. With the assistance of the Dutch publishing house LIAS we developed the idea of an atlas to visually show that plastic soup is a global problem manifesting itself in many different ways. Some of the questions we set out to answer include: What are the causes and sources of plastic soup? And what are the solutions to get plastic soup off the map?

plastic soup
Only 9% of all plastic discarded since 1950 has been recycled. The other 91% has been taken to landfills, turned into incinerator emissions, or ended up in the oceans. Photo Credit: Shutterstock /Katacarix.

Were you trying to catalog the plastic pollution problem comprehensively? Or just highlighting the problem by examining some of the chief sources of plastic pollution and their impact?

The goal of Plastic Soup is to show that the plastic soup is not only about waste that can be cleaned up. There are many sources and effects of plastic soup — and also many possible solutions. I tried indeed to approach the issue in a comprehensive way, easy for any reader to understand.

plastic soup
Growing use of countless mass-produced, cheap plastic items for a wide range of short-lived applications gives rise to enormous quantities of plastic waste. Photo Credit: Shutterstock / John and Penny.
plastic soup
It is difficult to determine how long it takes before plastics break up. Plastics in the oceans do not degrade, ending up instead as minuscule particles. Graphic courtesy of the Plastic Soup Foundation.

What are some of the more egregious sources and/or impacts of plastic pollution that you discovered in the course of writing the book?

One is that the long-term impact of microplastics in soil can have all kinds of negative effects on terrestrial ecosystems with even greater impact than at sea. Another is that we breathe microplastics continuously without understanding if there might be negative consequences for our health in the long run.

In supermarkets, plastic helps cut down on food waste. Nowadays even single items like peppers and cucumbers are wrapped in plastic. Photo Credit: Harmen Spek/Plastic Soup Foundation.
Plastic-free supermarkets show that not using plastic is perfectly possbile. Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza opened this plastic-free shop in 2018. Photo Credit: Anna van der Vliet.

Plastic Soup also documents some efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste we create and dump into the environment. What were some of the more inspiring projects you found?

One of the inspiring new techniques that stands out to me is natural branding, a technique in which lasers are used to mark vegetables and fruit in lieu of plastic stickers. Plastic-free supermarkets are also popping up here and there and are showing the big chains the way to follow. Other people show us how to live with zero waste.

The machines that can add the laser brand marks are getting cheaper, smaller, and better every year. This means that they are becoming more viable for increasing numbers of products. Photo Credit: Eosta.
Natural branding is the technique in which lasers are used to mark fruit and vegetables by burning a little pigment away from the outermost layer of the skin. Photo Credit: Eosta.

What are some of the top recommendations made in the book for how people can reduce their use of plastics? Is there anything folks can do to help clean up existing plastic pollution?

Try to live without plastic for a while, as promoted by Plastic Free July, an Australian initiative that developed a useful toolbox to do so. Also try, for example, to combine your daily jogging or walk the dog with cleaning up the street litter you encounter along the way.

What can you do to counteract pollution by plastic, and what has the most effect? Graphic courtesy of the Plastic Soup Foundation.

Once it’s out in the world, what do you hope a book like this can accomplish?

I hope that Plastic Soup will contribute to raising awareness about this environmental issue and make it clear that cleaning up the mess and preventing further pollution is everybody’s responsibility — including companies and authorities.

Kamilo Beach in Hawaii, 2008. Plastic fragments from all over the world don’t merely accumulate here; as time passes, they also keep getting smaller. Photo Credit: 5Gyres.
Our efforts to clean up plastic from the environment will never keep up unless governments succeed in turning off the tap. Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Asia Images.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.

CORRECTION: This article originally implied that 8 million metric tons of plastic is dumped into the oceans every minute. It has been corrected to state that 8 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year, which is equivalent to a full garbage truck every minute.

Article originally posted in Mongabay.

 

Greenpeace calls for Nestle to act over single-use plastics

Greenpeace calls for Nestle to act over single-use plastics

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – Environmental group Greenpeace on Thursday accused Nestle of not doing enough to reduce single-use plastics polluting landfills and oceans.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director at Greenpeace International, said the world’s biggest food group should set a target for reducing single-use packaging and invest in alternatives focusing on refill and reuse.

“Nestle is a major contributor to the plastic crisis and environmental problem that we have right now,” Morgan told Reuters on the sidelines of the company’s annual general meeting in Lausanne, where Greenpeace activists intervened shaking banners.

Nestle Chief Executive, Mark Schneider, said he thought focusing exclusively on reusable packaging was wrong. “Why rely on just one lever when you have four or five you can use,” he said, citing the importance of biodegradable packaging and recycling.

Growing concern over environmental issues – from climate change to plastic pollution – has triggered a wave of global student protests, piling pressure on policymakers and business leaders.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle are the world’s biggest producers of plastic waste, according to a report last year from Greenpeace and the Break Free From Plastic movement. It analyzed 187,000 pieces of trash collected in 42 countries

Duncan Pollard, Nestle head of sustainability, said the company agreed about the need to reduce plastic use. “But we need to make sure the new packaging solutions are safe and that consumers accept them,” he told Reuters, adding it was too early to say plastic use had peaked.

Nestle has said it used 1.7 million tonnes of plastic packaging last year. Greenpeace said that was up 13 percent, but Pollard said Nestle had since changed the way it measured plastic use and the true rise was below 3 percent.

Last month, the European Parliament approved a law banning a wide range of single-use plastic items by 2021.

Nestle has vowed to make 100 percent of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 and push the use of compostable and biodegradable materials polymers.

Greenpeace criticized Nestle’s promises as lacking transparency, clear targets and significant investment.

“Material substitution is a false solution,” Morgan said. “It will just shift the impact to the world’s forests and agricultural lands.”

Pollard said he didn’t share concerns about deforestation and thought the shift to paper would help tackle climate change. Nestle was also working on a new system of water dispensers.

Greenpeace on Wednesday launched a “plastic monster” video showing a fictional “Nestle Chief Plastics Officer” trying to buy a single-use plastic bottle of the company’s Pure Life water from a vending machine and having dead fish and slimy waste explode in his face instead.

The one-minute spot ends with the slogan “Tell Nestle to stop single-use plastic”.

editing by John Stonestreet

Article originally posted in Reuters.

 

Revolutionary: Zlarin becomes the first Croatian plastic-free island!

Revolutionary: Zlarin becomes the first Croatian plastic-free island!

Article from #breakfreefromplastic group Zelena Akcija.

Motivated by the European Single Use Plastic Directive, a group of local activists from the island of Zlarin in Croatia had an idea of Zlarin becoming an island free from single-use plastic. They won a contest for the most innovative solutions that will help prevent further plastic pollution entering the Adriatic Sea. Then, a few months later, the vision started becoming a reality when all shops, restaurants, NGOs and local authorities signed the declaration to replace disposable plastic with more environmentally friendly solutions to contribute to stopping plastic pollution.

The Zero Waste Croatia Network that collects and supports best practices in Croatia congratulates the island of Zlarin and all those engaged in this significant success.

“As a member of international Break Free From Plastic movement we congratulate the island of Zlarin! We have worked to get strong and motivating EU legislation to stop plastic pollution, and soon after that we already have concrete results here in Croatia. Zlarin is the first, and hopefully many other islands and municipalities will follow!”, says Marko Košak, coordinator of the Zero Waste Croatia Network, member of global Break Free From Plastic movement.

“Our goal isn’t to simply replace all single use plastic items with another single use items made of more environmental friendly materials. Our goal is to once again start using reusable items – going shopping with canvas bags, using glass instead of plastic bottles, using tap water instead of bottled water at events etc. Plastic cups and cutlery will be replaced by more sustainable solutions and straws will be completely phased out”, says Ana Elizabeta Robb from Zlarin, one of the initiators of this successful project.

After this crucial step, Zlarin won’t stop.

“We already had meeting with local activists and have planned the next actions to improve quality of life on the island. The Croatian Ministry of Environment doesn’t do much to stop plastic pollution, so we are applying pressure from bottom up. With our zero waste municipalities and plastic-free islands like Zlarin we are on the right track to transform our society and environment to be a better place for living“, concludes Marko Košak.

Green groups to Nestlé: “Own up, pay up, clean up your act!”

Green groups to Nestlé: “Own up, pay up, clean up your act!”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MANILA, Philippines (April 10, 2019) A day before Nestlé’s Annual General Meeting, over a hundred activists belonging to the global #breakfreefromplastic movement trooped to Nestlé’s Philippine headquarters today to demand accountability for their role in abetting the country’s  plastic pollution crisis.

Accompanied by four higantes (giant mascots) carrying a serpent-like plastic monster, the groups delivered a demand letter and “invoice from the Filipino people” outlining the costs of Nestlé’s single-use plastic packaging to human health impacts, environmental pollution, death of wildlife, damage to livelihoods and businesses, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste management costs.

“For the longest time, companies like Nestlé have been passing  on the costs and impacts of their plastic pollution to our people, communities, and environment. Their continuing reliance on single-use plastics for packaging their products has brought on terrible consequences  for nature, marked by polluted beaches and suffering wildlife, not to mention potentially serious effects on our health,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chair of Mother Earth Foundation.

The Philippines, along with other Southeast Asian countries, are reeling from the impacts of plastic pollution brought about by the influx of products wrapped in sachets or smaller plastic packaging aimed at reaching lower income brackets in developing countries. However, communities and governments often bear the brunt of managing the disposal of these plastic packaging while multinational corporations’ continued production and use of single-use plastic packaging have been escaping scrutiny and accountability.

In brand audits conducted in coastal areas, as well as in cities and municipalities throughout the country, Nestlé’s throwaway plastic packaging outnumbered the amount of packaging from other manufacturers. In a five-year household waste assessment and brand audits conducted in seven cities and municipalities by MEF, Nestlé was found to be the top household plastic polluter, with Nestlé-branded packaging trash accounting  for almost 15% of the total branded residual waste audited.

Further, waste and brand audits conducted in six Philippine and Indonesian hospitals in 2018 also found Nestle (along with Monde Nissin and Danone) as one of the top three biggest single-use plastic waste producers. Finally, in September 2017, #breakfreefromplastic member organizations in the Philippines conducted an unprecedented  eight-day coastal cleanup, waste and brand audit on Freedom Island, a critical habitat for migratory birds off Manila Bay. The audit identified the top brands found to be polluting the island. Multinational corporations like Nestle led the top corporate plastic polluters ranking.

“It is totally unjust that Nestlé is passing the burden for managing what is essentially an unmanageable waste problem on our  local governments and citizens. Why should taxpayers assume the pollution legacy of a multi-billion dollar company? Our government should start charging Nestlé and similar companies for their share of our waste management costs. Our taxes should be used to support educational, health and other social services for Filipinos, and not to cover up the pollution footprint of multinational companies,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the Ecowaste Coalition.

In a briefing paper released today, the groups have estimated that  the cost for the management of residual wastes (which is mostly single-use plastics) is around PHP 5.8 to 7.2 million per day, or around PHP 2.1 to 2.6 billion per year.

“Corporations like Nestlé must redesign their production and start investing in alternative packaging materials and delivery systems that are ecologically sustainable for the people and the planet. We also want to see clear targets and timelines from the company on how they intend to reduce their plastic footprint. It is lamentable that instead of prioritizing reduction measures, the company is still fixated in promoting false and controversial solutions like chemical recycling and pyrolysis to respond to this crisis. The time for greenwashing is over, Nestlé, it’s time to clean up your act!” added Beau Baconguis, Regional Plastics Campaigner of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Asia-Pacific coordinator of #breakfreefromplastic.

“We are here today because we have had enough. Nestlé claims to care about its plastic pollution, but has actually continued to increase its reliance on throwaway plastics. In 2018, the company produced 1.7 million metric tons of plastic packaging, which is a 13 percent increase from the 1.5 million metric tons they produced in 2017. While they claim to be taking this crisis seriously, their actions are not backing that up. As a major contributor to plastic pollution, Nestlé must take immediate action to reduce its production of throwaway packaging and invest in refill and reuse delivery systems for the sake of our planet,” added Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Campaigner.

Notes to the Editors:

Last year, brand audits led by Break Free From Plastic member organizations in 42 countries, found Nestlé as the third most frequent multinational brand collected in cleanups.

In the Philippines, the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) estimated that waste generation in the country in 2016 is at 40,000 tons per day (tpd). If we assume that all this goes to landfill, the cost for managing this waste is around PHP 32 million to 40 million daily. The NSWMC data cites that residuals comprise 18% of waste generated.

Contact:

Jed Alegado, Communications Officer for Asia Pacific, Break Free from Plastic

jed@breakfreefromplastic.org | +63 917 607 0248

Sonia Astudillo, Communications Officer, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives Asia Pacific

sonia@no-burn.org | +63 917 596 9286

About BFFP –  #breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 1,400 non-governmental 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. www.breakfreefromplastic.org.

 

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