, - Posted on October 21, 2022

“Recycle week” slammed as “corporate greenwash” by environmentalists


This year’s “Recycle Week”, which is urging people to “Get Real about Recycling”, has been slammed by environmentalists as “corporate greenwashing” with some of the worst polluters in the world like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and McDonald's sponsoring the week.

Recycling Week’s aim is to be “galvanising the public into recycling more of the right things, more often”. But today the environmental not-for-profit, City to Sea, is slamming this message as “an echo of the plastic industry’s long-standing excuses for inaction”. It is, they say, language that diminishes the company's own much more significant responsibility to tackle the plastic crisis and, once again, lays the blame and solutions on individual consumers.  The scale of the plastic crisis demands an unveiling of the “recycling myth”. It’s thought that only 9% of all plastic ever produced is thought to have been recycled. Best global estimates put the current recycling rate on about 20% of all plastics.

City to Sea’s Policy Manager, Steve Hynd, commented, “To be abundantly clear, it’s transparently nonsense to have the world's biggest plastic polluters, like Coca-Cola as sponsors of recycling week. This is greenwashing the dirtiest of business models, nothing more and nothing less. To ask people to recycle more is an echo of the plastic industry’s language of long-standing excuses for inaction that demands people to mop up the mess faster while they keep flooding our communities with single-use plastics.”

Some of the sponsors include Coca-Cola, Pepsi co, Mcdonald's and Biffa. Coca-Cola has been named the biggest plastic polluter for four years in a row. In 2019 they admitted to pumping out 200,000 single-use throw-away bottles a minute. Last week City to Sea condemned COP27 for giving Coca-Cola an “unchallenged platform” as sponsors of COP27 arguing it was a “gravest dereliction of duty that the organisers have to our natural world”. Pepsi Co was this year named the second largest plastic polluter after Coca-Cola. It’s estimated that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and McDonald’s alone are ‘responsible for 39% of UK’s branded packaging pollution'.

The sponsors though don’t just include the big polluters but also waste companies like Biffa – the UK’s largest waste firm which made headlines for selling soiled nappies abroad as part of their recycled content. Separately, in 2021, Biffa was found guilty and fined £1.5 million for “4 offences of exporting poorly-sorted household waste from its recycling facility”.

Hynd continued, “Recycle Week asks us “to get real” about recycling. So here it is, the unvarnished truth: we can’t recycle our way out of this plastic crisis whatever your corporate paymasters might say. We need a massive reduction in plastic production and an entire revolution in refillable and reusable packaging. This is something the big plastic polluters won’t say because it undermines their polluting business model. Genuine environmentalists will do well to remember that for as long as they take money from these big polluters they will always be stopped from speaking this truth. These companies always have and always will put profit before people or the planet. They are to genuine environmentalism what urinal soaps are to mountain freshness. If you think otherwise you should “get real”.


For more information or to arrange interviews contact Steve Hynd directly on steve@citytosea.org.uk or ring 07903569531


© 2023 Break Free From Plastic. All right reserved.