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, - Posted on April 16, 2024

Break Free From Plastic Regional Brand Audit Report Identifies Top Plastic Sachet Polluters in Asia

Unilever, Nestlé, and Procter & Gamble are among the list of companies inundating developing Asian markets with multilayer, single-use sachet packaging.

Break Free From Plastic Asia Pacific

Today, a  #BreakFreeFromPlastic (BFFP) report based on citizen science brand audits across India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam unveils the companies responsible for flooding Asia with harmful single-use plastic sachets, small flexible pouches or packets. The list of identified polluters includes European corporations Unilever and Nestlé and the American Procter & Gamble, as well as regional brands Mayora Indah, Wings, and Salim Group from Indonesia, Wadia Group and Balaji Wafers Private Limited from India, JG Summit Holdings from the Philippines and Yes2Healthy Life from Singapore.

Sachets are sealed, flexible plastic packaging designed for single use, usually consisting of multilayered plastics and other materials, such as metal or paper. They are widely used across Asia to sell small quantities of everyday products such as instant coffee, shampoo, condiments and detergents - with devastating environmental consequences. The difficulty of processing these tiny packets in waste management systems means these sachets end up in landfills, rivers, and beaches, harming ecosystems, wildlife, and ultimately, human health and livelihoods. Their disposal, including burning for industrial purposes, emits toxic pollutants, poses health risks to nearby communities, and their breakdown results in harmful microplastics. Sachets also perpetuate the cycle of fossil fuel extraction and exacerbate the climate crisis.

Environmental groups throughout the Asian region have been demanding companies phase out or #QuitSachets, given the alarming extent of sachet pollution. Many of these companies, previously identified as top plastic polluters in our global brand audits, have pledged to make their plastic packaging reusable, recycled, or compostable by 2025. However, their continued reliance on sachets perpetuates pollution, posing threats to both human health and the environment. Adding to the double standard, some corporations opt for false solutions, such as burning sachets as fuel for various industries, further exacerbating the issue.

To better understand the scale and source of sachet pollution in developing economies, a group of Asian NGOs from the BFFP movement came together to develop an addendum to the existing global brand audit methodology. BFFP's global brand audit, running for six consecutive years now, is a participatory community initiative in which branded plastic waste is gathered, counted, and documented by volunteers to identify the companies responsible for plastic pollution.

Between October 2023 and February 2024, 807 volunteers organized brand audits in 50 locations across India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Together, these volunteers from 25 organizations collected a total of 33,467 sachets, which were traced to 2,678 different brands.

Here are the key insights from the report:

  1. The top 10 sachet polluters are Unilever, Wings, Mayora Indah, Wadia Group, Balaji Wafers Private Limited, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Yes 2 Healthy Life, JG Summit Holdings, and Salim Group.
  2. All ten companies are in the business of selling fast-moving consumer goods, primarily processed food and beverage manufacturing, as well as some personal care products. Sachets from food packaging constituted 86% of the sachet waste collected.
  3. A staggering 2,678 brands that sell products in sachets were audited across four countries: India (380), Indonesia (1,212) the Philippines (784), and Vietnam (395), which indicates the proliferation of this problematic, single-use format.
  4. Multilayer sachets dominate the packaging landscape, comprising 57% of the total sample, while single-layer packaging accounts for 41%. This is significant because the multiple layers of different materials make recycling of sachets impossible.
  5. Medium-sized (52.5 x 74.25 mm) sachets - approximately the size of a standard pack of Kleenex tissues - made up the largest fraction of the sample at 35%, followed by small (26.25 x 37.125 mm) sachets at 34%, large sachets (105 x 148.5 mm) at 14%, extra small (13.125 x 18.5625 mm) sachets at 11% and extra large (210 x 297 mm) ones at 6%.

In India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, sachet-driven economies have reshaped the landscape of daily commerce. Despite their touted affordability, sachets burden governments and communities with long-term waste management costs and environmental cleanups.

The 2023 sachet brand audit report highlights the widespread problem of single-use sachets and emphasizes the urgent need for action within the framework of the global plastics treaty, which advocates for eliminating high-risk plastic products - such as sachets. BFFP calls on fast-moving consumer goods companies to:

  1. Corporations must take immediate action to phase out or quit sachets, to effectively address the environmental, social and economic impacts of these single-use plastics.
  2. Reveal their plastic use by providing public data on the type and quantity of packaging used in different markets, and the chemicals in that packaging.
  3. End support for false solutions such as burning plastic and chemical recycling. Sending sachets and other plastic packaging to cement kilns isn’t recycling.
  4. Redesign business models away from single-use sachets and other single-use packaging of any type - including novel materials such as bio-based or compostable plastics.
  5. Invest in accessible, affordable reuse, refill or packaging-free product delivery systems in all markets, while ensuring a just transition for all relevant workers.

Access the 2023 Sachet Brand Audit report.

Media Contact: 

Devayani Khare, Asia-Pacific Communication Officer:


Miko Alino, Project Coordinator - Sachets, Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) said, "The deceptive convenience of sachets cripples our strained government resources. Municipalities are forced to burn them which releases toxins into the air, or send them to already congested landfills. Sachets disfigure our beautiful landscapes and also harm vital economic cogs in the region, like the tourism industry. Let's quit sachets and ensure that these problematic, single-use formats are phased out under an ambitious global plastics treaty.”

India Project Team

“Under the recent amendment to India's Plastic Waste Management Rules by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, municipal authorities and rural local bodies are now mandated to highlight the indispensable role of waste pickers in plastic waste management — at every stage from collection to disposal — under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). This is a crucial step as waste pickers' contributions span social, economic, and environmental realms, forming the very bedrock of sustainable waste management, which includes the recovery of sachet waste.”

Vidya Naiknaware, a waste picker with the SWaCH Cooperative, India said, “We consistently encounter an issue with these tiny wrappers and sachets—they cannot be composted or recycled due to their negligible value. Their size makes them practically impossible to collect. We urge companies to produce packaging which we can pick up and send for recycling, or which can be composted. Furthermore, we appeal to the government to involve us in drafting plastic regulations, as these policies directly impact our livelihoods and environment.”

Indonesia Project Team

“In Indonesia, regulation MoEF number 75 of 2019 encourages producers to reduce waste from packaging by 30% of the total production by 2029 and phase out sachets under 50 ml by 2030. However, only 42 producers have submitted waste reduction roadmaps and 16 pilot project stages. Additionally, without transparency regarding the contents of producers' waste reduction roadmaps to the public, the commitment of producers to achieve the 30% reduction, especially concerning sachets, is questionable. The production of sachets continues to increase, and without reduction from producers, it will exacerbate the plastic crisis. Producers' waste reduction roadmaps should prioritize aspects of reducing production and transitioning from single-use packaging distribution systems to reuse systems.”

Aloja Santos, Founding President of the newly formed Philippine National Waste Workers’ Alliance (PNWWA), and President of Dumaguete Women Waste Workers Association said, “Sachets are a major problem in the Philippines since they are not recyclable and have little to no value. Waste workers strongly support initiatives aimed at reducing plastic pollution and promoting reuse options. For someone who has experienced the plastic-free tingi culture growing up, it is exciting to see a resurgence of refill initiatives in the Philippines, in the form of zero-waste sari-sari stores. To accelerate progress, policymakers should enact bans on sachets and single-use plastics, while incentivizing reuse and refill alternatives. 

Xuan Quach, Coordinator of Vietnam Zero Waste Alliance (VZWA) adds, “Brand audits reveal a harsh truth: sachets pose a major problem in Vietnam and other parts of Asia. While Vietnam’s policies mandate corporations to collect and recycle sachets and other plastic packaging (See Law on Environmental Protection Article 54; and Decree 08/2022/ND-CP), limited recycling capacity makes it incredibly challenging to handle all sachet waste safely. We need a multi-pronged approach: phasing out sachets alongside significant investments in reuse systems.”


Note to the editor/s:

To complicate the issue further, there is no standard, globally accepted definition for sachets. The closest definition of sachets as 'small flexible packaging', as per Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF)'s The Global Commitment 2023 report, is limited to sealed pouches below A4 size. However, Asia grapples with many other sizes of single-use, multilayer packaging, all facing similar disposal challenges as small sachets.

Among the top ten sachet polluters, three of these companies are Indonesian (Mayora Indah, Wings, and Salim Group), two are Indian (Wadia Group and Balaji Wafers Private Limited), one is Filipino (JG Summit Holdings), and one is Singaporean (Yes 2 Healthy Life). The remaining three are global corporations from outside the region, headquartered in the US and Europe (Unilever is based in the UK, Nestlé is in Switzerland, and Procter & Gamble is from the USA).

We would like to emphasize the global scope of the corporations highlighted in our report and the significant responsibility they bear in addressing the sachet pollution crisis. It's crucial to recognize that Asia is often blamed for plastic pollution, while we overlook the role of global corporations that flood developing markets with problematic formats like sachets, which are not as widely sold in the Global North countries.


Here are some news links for background on brand audits and the issue of sachets:

Reuters | 23 June 2022

The Guardian | 1 August 2022
Focused on Unilever terminating its sachet collection scheme, and its failed chemical recycling project, CreaSolv.

2023 Global Brand Audit | 7 February 2024

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About Break Free From Plastic –  #breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in 2016, more than 2,000 organizations and 11,000 individual supporters from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. BFFP member organizations and individuals share the shared values of environmental protection and social justice and work together through a holistic approach to bring about systemic change. This means tackling plastic pollution across the whole plastics value chain—from extraction to disposal—focusing on prevention rather than cure and providing effective solutions.

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