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Brand Audit Social Media Guide

#BrandAudit2019

Social Media Recruitment Kit

It’s that time of the year…

The Break Free From Plastic movement is mobilizing people all over the world to participate in the 2019 Brand Audit to hold corporations accountable for their role in creating the plastic pollution crisis. Throughout August and September (leading up to World Cleanup Day on September 21st), we’re coming together at beaches, parks, streets and beyond to calculate who exactly is responsible for plastic waste We’ll then use this data to get to the root of the plastic pollution problem.

In a nutshell: brand audits are our way of gathering evidence to hold corporations accountable for plastic that is not manageable or that may be recyclable but is ending up where it shouldn’t be. If we only clean plastic up, it will keep coming back. The only way to combat plastic pollution is to stop it at its source. Brand audits help us do just that!

In 2018, 9,000 volunteers across 6 continents came together to organize 239 brand audit cleanups. They found 187,851 pieces of plastic pollution. (You can learn more about our 2018 Brand Audit Report here.) We want this year’s Brand Audit to be bigger than ever before. We’ve put this social media toolkit together with sample tweets, posts and images to help get the word out about the 2019 Brand Audit month of global action.

Hashtag:

#BrandAudit2019

Quick links:

Sign up to join or host a brand audit near you for August to September

Retweet or quote this tweet.

Follow #BreakFreeFromPlastic on social media!

Sample tweets:

  • Cleanups alone can’t solve the problem of plastic pollution. By incorporating data on  branded packaging, we can get to the root cause of the problem. Take action with the global @brkfreeplastic movement! Sign up to join or host a #BrandAudit2019 action: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19
  • Inspired by the youth taking climate action worldwide? Be part of the global movement to hold corporations accountable for their role in creating the plastic pollution problem! Sign up to join or host a @brkfreeplastic #BrandAudit2019 activity near you: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19
  • Take action to hold corporations accountable like @nestle @unilever for their role in creating the plastic pollution crisis! Join the @brkfreeplastic movement and sign up to participate in or host your own #BrandAudit2019 activity this August & September: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19
  • Take your beach cleanup to the next level by identifying the brands washing up on our beaches and beyond. @nestle @unilever were the top polluters in last years brand audit, who will it be this year? Join or host a @brkfreeplastic #BrandAudit2019 action: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19
  • Brands need to take responsibility for their products and packaging, not shift the burden of plastic disposal onto developing countries. Join a @brkfreeplastic #BrandAudit2019 action this August & September to identify corporate plastic in YOUR community: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19
  • In the Global South, corporations have disrupted developing countries’ refill systems by opting to sell single use products in “sachets” instead of in bulk. Take action to stop the sachet economy. Join or host a @brkfreeplastic #BrandAudit2019 activity: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19
  • Around the world, cities & communities have shown that Zero Waste is the REAL solution to plastic pollution. Their role is critical to achieving Zero Waste. Sign up to join or host a @brkfreeplastic #BrandAudit2019 action this August & September: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19
  • Single-use plastics pose a major threat to our climate. Since corporations aren’t taking responsibility for their role in creating the plastic pollution problem, we’re taking action to hold them accountable. Join or host a @brkfreeplastic #BrandAudit2019: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19

Sample INSTAGRAM & FACEBOOK POSTS:

  • This August & September, @BreakFreeFromPlastic is mobilizing people all over the world for a month of action to hold corporations like @Nestle @Unilever @cocacola accountable for their role in creating the plastic pollution problem. Sign up to join or host a #BrandAudit2019 activity near you at bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19!
  • Cleanups alone can’t solve the problem of plastic pollution. By incorporating data on branded packaging, we can get to the root cause of the problem and hold corporations accountable for their role in creating the plastic pollution crisis. Sign up to join or host a @BreakFreeFromPlastic #BrandAudit2019 action to identify corporate plastic in YOUR community this August & September: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19
  • Inspired by the youth taking climate action all over the world? Be part of the global movement to hold corporations accountable for their role in creating the plastic pollution problem! Sign up to join or host a @BreakFreeFromPlastic #BrandAudit2019 action to identify corporate plastic in YOUR community this August & September: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19
  • Brands like @Nestle @Unilever @cocacola need to take responsibility for their products and packaging, not shift the burden of plastic disposal onto developing countries. Sign up to join or host a @BreakFreeFromPlastic #BrandAudit2019 action to identify corporate plastic in YOUR community this August & September. Visit bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19 to learn more!
  • All throughout August & September (leading up to #WorldCleanupDay on September 21st), @BreakFreeFromPlastic is mobilizing citizen action takers around the world to come together at beaches, parks, streets and beyond to calculate who exactly is responsible for plastic waste on our shores and elsewhere. Sign up to join or host a @BreakFreeFromPlastic #BrandAudit2019 action to identify corporate plastic in YOUR community: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19
  • In the Global South, corporations like @Nestle @Unilever @proctergamble have disrupted developing countries by opting to sell single-use products in “sachets” (think single-use ketchup packets) instead of in bulk. Take action to stop the sachet economy. Join or host a @BreakFreeFromPlastic #BrandAudit2019 action this August & September: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19
  • People around the world are creating real solutions to the plastic pollution crisis to avoid relying on a broken system. Zero Waste Cities operating on plastic-free systems of refill and reuse are gaining momentum. Sign up to join or host a #BrandAudit2019 activity this August or September to identify corporate plastic in YOUR community: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19!
  • Single-use plastics pose a major threat to our climate. Research states that over 99% of plastic is made from fossil fuel. Since corporations aren’t taking responsibility for their role in creating the plastic pollution problem, we’re taking action to hold them accountable. Join or host a @BreakFreeFromPlastic #BrandAudit2019 activation this August & September to identify corporate plastic in YOUR community: bit.ly/BRANDAUDIT19

Brand Audit 2019

BRAND AUDIT TOOLKIT

Mobilizing massive citizen muscle with a common mission so corporations can no longer frame the issue as one of only consumer responsibility. Join us! Join a brand audit in your town!Spread the word on social media

Break Free From Plasticthe global movement working to stop plastic pollution for good, is taking cleanups a step further: by highlighting the solutions that solve the problem and naming the brands most responsible for undermining these solutions.

Background

Communities across the world are taking matters into their own hands to create solutions focused on reduction of plastic pollution. Leaders from Indonesia to Italy are supporting new business models using community-based reuse and refill systems. Even as this groundbreaking work is growing, corporations like Coca-Cola, Nestle, Starbucks, and McDonald’s have continued to pump unmanageable plastic waste into these same communities. We are sold coffee, soda, chips, candy, sandwiches, shampoo, soap, and even fruits and vegetables packaged in throwaway plastic. It’s time for all corporations to support our communities by investing in alternatives and phasing out single-use plastic. Don’t you agree?

 

In 2018, thousands of people across the world performed 239 brand audits to call out the world’s top polluters, resulting in Volume 1 of the “BRANDED” report. By categorizing and counting branded plastic packaging during a cleanup or collection effort, they’ll helped identify the corporations most responsible for plastic pollution.

 

This year, this project is even bigger, with more audits, more data collected, and more impactful stories to tell. Find out below how you can be a part of this worldwide movement to stand up and say, “Enough is enough” on plastic pollution.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: WHAT CAN BE RECYCLED?

It’s important that corporations know what they’re sending to your city that can’t be recycled. So do some initial research to find out what your city does and does not recycle locally. You can usually find this information on city, county, or province websites, from local recycling organizations, or even at local libraries or other information centers. Maybe you can even contact your local Materials Recovery Facility to check with them directly what they do or do not recycle locally. 

 

The data card and app will ask you if the items you collected can be recycled locally, so please make sure you know!

Steps to Conduct a Brand Audit

Time to flex your citizen muscles!

STEP 1: MAKE A PLAN

First, it is important to make a waste deposit plan. Think ahead on how to properly dispose of all waste from your clean-up or collection activity, including plastics and all other materials. For example, recyclable materials should go to material recovery and/or recycling facilities, and biodegradable wastes could be set aside for composting. 

Waste that cannot be recycled or composted locally (i.e. residual waste) is especially important. Hint: these are the brands you want to identify!

When your cleanup is done, this residual must be put in a landfill…or you can box it up and ship it back to the headquarters of the brands on the labels. You can also share images of that residual waste on social media, tag the brands, and tag it with #IsThisYours. 

STEP 2: CHOOSE YOUR SITE

Will you be doing a clean-up outdoors with lots of volunteers or just a small group? Will you be collecting single-use items at your home or office to audit the plastic in your own life? Are you cleaning up plastic pollution out on the water with a kayak and a net? Choose the site that works best for you (it’s all useful!), and use our guidelines below for each one. Make sure you take a “before” picture to document what you’re about to audit!

Once you know where you’ll be collecting or cleaning up items for your cleanup, be sure to take note of its latitude and longitude. You can either use an app on your mobile phone, or you can enter the address into this helpful site – make a note of it, either way!

STEP 3: PREPARE YOUR SUPPLIES

You’ll need different kinds of tools and gear for your audit, depending on what kind of collection you’re doing.

IF YOU’RE COLLECTING OUTDOORS… 

Make sure to choose a site of a size reasonable for the number of volunteers you have. 

If you’ll be out on the water in a kayak or small vessel, the best way to grab pollution is with a medium sized net. You can then collect it all in bags or bins affixed to your vessel, and the auditing and counting at the end once you’re back on land. 

Make sure you have the proper gear on hand to protect yourself and your volunteers:

  • Protective gloves, tongs, and/or nets for all volunteers
  • Collection bins, bags, or buckets (make sure they’re all a standard size!)
  • Printed brand audit data cards, along with pens / pencils & clipboards

Be sure to then take an “after” photo of the site to share your progress with our community by tagging the location and #breakfreefromplastic!

IF YOU’RE COLLECTING IN YOUR HOME OR OFFICE…

Avoid digging around in yucky days-old wet garbage – especially if you’re in a shared office! Instead, if you’re going to audit your home or office, designate a separate collection bin or bag for all the single-use packaging and products you use, and collect them all in that bin for 7 days. At the end of those 7 days, take an audit of everything in that collection bin, and record all the waste and brands on the data card.

Be sure to let your house or office mates know what you’re doing, either through a sign or just by telling them one-on-one. Not only will it stop them from throwing away your collected waste before you’ve audited it, but you can also start a conversation about solutions to plastic pollution!

Want to kick it up a notch? Get your entire block or neighborhood to participate in this brand audit! Set an ‘event day’ to do one big brand audit all at once at a local community center or park. Make sure you have a plan for waste disposal, and use this handy guide from the Mother Earth Foundation for more tips.

STEP 4: KNOW YOUR DATA CARD

You and your volunteers should know how to complete the data card or count plastic pollution through the app, so make sure you review this information well before your audit day. 

Include the information below about each plastic item. Download the Brand Audit Form pdf and use this form to follow these steps:

  1. Enter the name of the brand. (Hint: This will be the most visible word printed on the item!)
  2. Enter the item description. (Is it a water bottle? A toothbrush? The cradle of an old telephone?)
  3. Circle the type of product. (Water bottle? Food packaging. Toothbrush? Personal care. Old telephone cradle? Household products.)
  4. Circle the type of material. (Bottle? Probably PET. Toothbrush? That depends – probably unknown. Telephone cradle? If you find the number inside the chasing arrows, you’ll know!)
  5. Circle the number of layers the product has. (Is it a food wrapper, or one of those pouch / sachet things that shampoo and detergent come in? Those are usually multi-layer. If you’re not sure, circle ‘unsure’!)
  6. Finally, check the box if that product is accepted for recycling by your local waste management. (Hint: Suggestions on how to find that information are above.👆

Download the helpful visual guide to help you identify the types of product and material for each piece of trash you find. Pollution with unidentifiable brands should still be listed and classified by product and material type, if known. 

STEP 5: MAKE A PLAN FOR YOUR DATA

We have both a printable data card to record the data by hand and the Trashblitz app to record the data digitally. Even if you use the printable data card, you will still need to report the data through the Trashblitz app after your cleanup. (Maybe after you’ve had a chance to wash your hands and get back to wifi!)

Regardless of which one you use, you can do the count by:

  1. Gathering all collected waste together, and counting at the end. Divide all collected items into piles by type, and then divide each of those piles into groups by brand. Count all of the pieces, and record their descriptions, material types, and local recyclability on the Brand Audit Form or in the app.
  2. Categorize the items by brand as you collect them. Have each volunteer team record the item descriptions and tally them as they’re collecting trash. Two or three people can be collecting items and calling out brands they find them, while a third person marks the tally (on the data card or the app), adding tally marks for each branded piece of pollution as it’s put into the collection bins or bags.

The first method is easiest if you are cleaning up a large area with a huge amount of waste (i.e. piles of waste, shovel-fulls at a time), while the second method is easier for coastal or [city] clean-ups with fewer or more isolated pieces of waste.

STEP 6: YOU’RE READY!

  1. Collect all the waste in your designated site area.

STEP 7: LET’S GET SOCIAL

Take photos of the piles of plastic from each brand and post it to social media. Tag the manufacturer and don’t forget to use the hashtag #breakfreefromplastic!

STEP 8: NOW CLEAN IT UP!

Clean the audit area carefully and properly, remembering to leave the site cleaner than before you started.

STEP 9: SEND IN THE DATA

In order for your awesome counts to be available to others and used in our reporting, enter your data, upload your photos along with a scanned copy/screenshot/excel file of the actual data form, and submit them via the app or the online form.

STEP 10: RETURN TO SENDER

If you have the resources to do so, box up the branded items and send it back to the manufacturer. Include a letter to the company describing the purpose of your brand audit  and urge them to #breakfreefromplastic!

Done with your Brand Audit?

Send us your data.

Coming soon

What Are We Doing With This Data?

Through brand audits, #breakfreefromplastic aims to hold polluting corporations accountable, to drive calls for innovations in product packaging and waste management, and to bring people together who want to take action for a future where beach and community clean-ups are a thing of the past.   Find out which companies are responsible for most of the plastic waste collected around the globe!

Find out here

Special thanks to #breakfreefromplastic member groups: Mother Earth Foundation, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Ecowaste Coalition, Health Care Without Harm – Asia, Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group and others, for developing and piloting the brand audit tool as part of their coastal clean-up events in September 2017.

GREEN GROUPS PUSH BACK ON INCINERATION PLANS IN AUSTRALIA Calls on waste take back

GREEN GROUPS PUSH BACK ON INCINERATION PLANS IN AUSTRALIA Calls on waste take back

MANILA, Philippines (August 15, 2019)—Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently announced that they will stop export of recyclable waste amid rising global plastic pollution concern and pushback from Asian countries who are at the receiving end of the waste trade.

Green groups in and around the region are wary of the pronouncement that can be used as an opening to push for waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration which the Australian government has been silently supporting.  They are also pushing the government to take back waste that were already shipped to Asian countries.

 

Jane Bremmer, Coordinator, Zero Waste Australia (National Toxics Network): “The Prime Minister’s announcement and Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) support for a ban on waste exports should be cautiously welcomed and is long overdue following the embarrassing revelations of Australian illegal waste dumping in Southeast Asia. However, it seems certain that the announcement is designed to distract from a major government push to burn Australia’s waste in polluting incinerators: an industry it quietly supports. Waste-to-energy incineration has no place in a sustainable zero waste management and circular economy agenda. Burning finite resources in our residual waste stream—predominantly single-use, non-recyclable, fossil fuel-based plastic waste—is not only highly polluting but entrenches a linear economy, the very cause of global climate, pollution and health disasters and is the antithesis of a sustainable circular economy.”

Contact: Jane Bremmer, +610 3262387; acejane@bigpond.com

 

Enzo Favoino, Scientific Coordinator, Zero Waste Europe: “While we welcome Australia’s move to ban waste export, we are strongly against any plans by the federal government to use this to justify waste-to-energy incineration in the hope that it will power Australian homes. Burning plastics is one of the largest contributors to climate change, and energetic efficiencies of incinerators are appallingly low, let alone where heat finds little or no use. In Europe, a climate correction factor had to be adopted to artificially change calculation of energy efficiency and falsely show higher energy efficiency where heat is to no use, as it would be the case in most situations in Australia. However, Europe has disincentivized support to new incineration projects in the last few years, since reliance on incineration may be counterproductive for the ambitious recycling and reuse targets as defined in the Circular Economy Package. Most recently, a study in Nordic countries is showing that these countries are not on track to meet EU’s recycling target because of heavy reliance on incineration.  Australia should learn from the mistakes of Europe and not invest in incineration. Reusing and recycling saves remarkably more energy than what may be retrieved through incineration, and given the remarkably low energetic efficiency of incinerators, waste of energy is a more appropriate term to use than waste to energy.” 

Contact: Enzo Favoino, +39 335 355446; enzo.favoino@zerowasteeurope.eu

 

Beau Baconguis, Plastics Campaigner of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific and Break Free From Plastic Asia Pacific coordinator: “There is a clear link between waste dumping by the Global North and the promotion of false solutions such as incineration to the waste problem in developing countries. Asia is now standing up against this injustice. Moreover, communities in our region, as well as in the global north, have demonstrated that the solution to the plastic waste problem is Zero Waste and that involves plastic waste reduction, alternative delivery systems, and ecological waste management programs. Governments need to listen more to its people rather than the profit-driven corporations peddling non-solutions.”

Contact: Beau Baconguis, +63 917 8715257, beau@no-burn.org

 

Yuyun Ismawati, Alliance for Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) and co-founder & Senior Advisor of BaliFokus/Nexus3 Foundation: “We call for the Consulate General of Australia in Surabaya to apologize for saying that the Indonesian government approved Australia’s sending of nasty scrap. Our government never approved such importation. We also ask the Australian ports to improve and strengthen their monitoring and the work of the surveyors who confirm the impurities and content of “recyclables” inside containers that are sent out of Australia. Finally, we call on the exporting and importing companies to clean the messy dumpsites they have created in Indonesia and the rest of Asia. We also call for the Australian government to collaborate with the Indonesian government to use safe technology to treat historical plastic waste in dumpsites and avoid incineration.” 

Contact: Yuyun Ismawati, +447583768707, yuyun@balifokus.asia

 

Mageswari Sangaralingam, Consumers Association of Penang (Malaysia): “The Malaysian government announced in May that it will send back Australian plastic waste because it was too contaminated to recycle or had been falsely labelled and smuggled in. Now that the Australian PM made pronouncement to stop waste export, the Australian government must take back waste that has already been shipped to Malaysia. We want the Australian government to clearly state their plans and timelines in cleaning up their mess (waste take back) and in stopping waste export. Further, in the future we want assurances that wastes are not relabelled and exported as commodities or fuel.”

Contact: Mageswari Sangaralingam, +60128782706, magesling@gmail.com

 

PRESS CONTACTS

Jed Alegado, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic, jed@breakfreefromplastic.org | +63 917-6070248

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

Sonia Astudillo, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific, sonia@no-burn.org | +63 917-5969286

Alliance for Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) is an alliance of organizations and concerned individuals, campaigning to promote a correct term of the Zero Waste approach to enforce the existing activities, programs and initiatives that have already implemented in many Indonesian cities considering waste management hierarchy concept, material life cycle, and circular economy. https://www.aliansizerowaste.id/

Nexus3 Foundation (formerly known as BaliFokus) is a non-governmental organization working to improve community’s capacity, quality of life and advocating a toxics-free environment together with all stakeholders in sustainable way. https://www.balifokus.asia/ 

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) focuses on sustainable and ethical consumption and challenges current aggressive advertising industry that is unfettered and shapes people’s consumption to lifestyles and behavior that is unsustainable, unethical, and inequitable. https://consumer.org.my/ 

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. www.no-burn.org

National Toxics Network is a community-based network working to ensure a toxic-free future for all. It is a national network giving a voice to community and environmental organizations across Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. https://ntn.org.au/

Zero Waste Europe is a fast-growing movement of communities, local leaders, businesses, experts, influencers, and other “change agents” working towards the vision of eliminating waste in our society.  https://zerowasteeurope.eu/ 

 

Australian waste export ban signals green light for dangerous waste incineration industry

Media release
12th August 2019

The Prime Minister’s announcement and COAG support for a ban on waste exports should be cautiously welcomed and is long overdue following the embarrassing revelations of Australian illegal waste dumping in South East Asia. However, it seems certain that the announcement is designed to distract from a major government push to burn Australia’s waste in polluting incinerators: an industry it quietly supports. As noted by some media reports on the announcement, the government “was exploring using waste in energy plants to power Australian homes.”

The National Toxics Network, through their lead campaign group, ‘Zero Waste Australia’ welcomes the Prime Minister’s support for an Australian recycling industry and a great leap forward towards a Circular Economy, where finite resources are reused, composted or recycled back into our materials production systems.

“The Prime Minister and COAG however must put the protection of our climate, health and environment ahead of global corporate industrial interests within the waste management sector that are driving dangerous waste to energy incinerators into Australia.

Waste to energy incineration has no place in a sustainable zero waste management and circular economy agenda. Burning finite resources in our residual waste stream – predominantly single use, non- recyclable, fossil fuel-based plastic waste – is not only highly polluting but entrenches a linear economy, the very cause of global climate, pollution and health disasters and is the antithesis of a sustainable circular economy.

Yet Australian state governments are fast tracking approvals for this industrial threat without adequate climate, health and environmental impact assessment processes, without any social licence to operate and without safeguards for vulnerable local governments.

It is a scandal that the waste to energy incineration sector is being allowed to take scarce renewable energy funds and grants from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency for an industry more toxic and climate polluting per unit of energy than coal, oil and gas. Australia is at risk of becoming the waste burning capital of the global south as this industry looks for new markets in vulnerable countries while the European Union and United States remove subsidies and support for waste to energy incinerators due to the adverse impact it has on the recycling sector and policies for a circular economy.

The announcement by the Prime Minister and COAG must be treated with scepticism unless they strengthen their mandate with a ban on the incineration of waste in Australia and the export of all types of Processed Engineered Fuel, and other ‘stealthy’ waste classifications to other countries, to bring Australia into line with international best practice waste management policy from comparable countries.” states Jane Bremmer, Coordinator Zero Waste Australia.

For more information – Jane Bremmer 0432 041 397, Jo Immig – 02 66871 527

BA test page

BRAND AUDIT TOOL KIT

Mobilizing massive citizen muscle with a common mission so corporations can no longer frame the issue as one of only consumer responsibility. Join us!

 

Planning to Do A Brand Audit? Let Us Know!Join a brand audit in your town!

Break Free From Plasticthe global movement working to stop plastic pollution for good, is taking cleanups a step further: by highlighting the solutions that solve the problem and naming the brands most responsible for undermining these solutions.

Background

Communities across the world are taking matters into their own hands to create solutions focused on reduction of plastic pollution. Leaders from Indonesia to Italy are supporting new business models using community-based reuse and refill systems. Even as this groundbreaking work is growing, corporations like Coca-Cola, Nestle, Starbucks, and McDonald’s have continued to pump unmanageable plastic waste into these same communities. We are sold coffee, soda, chips, candy, sandwiches, shampoo, soap, and even fruits and vegetables packaged in throwaway plastic. It’s time for all corporations to support our communities by investing in alternatives and phasing out single-use plastic. Don’t you agree? 

 

In 2018, thousands of people across the world performed 239 brand audits to call out the world’s top polluters, resulting in Volume 1 of the “BRANDED” report. By categorizing and counting branded plastic packaging during a cleanup or collection effort, they’ll helped identify the corporations most responsible for plastic pollution.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: WHAT CAN BE RECYCLED?

It’s important that corporations know what they’re sending to your city that can’t be recycled. So do some initial research to find out what your city does and does not recycle locally. You can usually find this information on city, county, or province websites, from local recycling organizations, or even at local libraries or other information centers. Maybe you can even contact your local Materials Recovery Facility to check with them directly what they do or do not recycle locally. 

 

The data card and app will ask you if the items you collected can be recycled locally, so please make sure you know!

Steps to Conduct a Brand Audit

Time to flex your citizen muscles!

STEP 1: MAKE A PLAN

First, it is important to make a waste deposit plan. Think ahead on how to properly dispose of all waste from your clean-up or collection activity, including plastics and all other materials. For example, recyclable materials should go to material recovery and/or recycling facilities, and biodegradable wastes could be set aside for composting. 

Waste that cannot be recycled or composted locally (i.e. residual waste) is especially important. Hint: these are the brands you want to identify!

When your cleanup is done, this residual must be put in a landfill…or you can box it up and ship it back to the headquarters of the brands on the labels. You can also share images of that residual waste on social media, tag the brands, and tag it with #IsThisYours. 

 

STEP 2: CHOOSE YOUR SITE

Will you be doing a clean-up outdoors with lots of volunteers or just a small group? Will you be collecting single-use items at your home or office to audit the plastic in your own life? Are you cleaning up plastic pollution out on the water with a kayak and a net? Choose the site that works best for you (it’s all useful!), and use our guidelines below for each one. Make sure you take a “before” picture to document what you’re about to audit!

Once you know where you’ll be collecting or cleaning up items for your cleanup, be sure to take note of its latitude and longitude. You can either use an app on your mobile phone, or you can enter the address into this helpful site – make a note of it, either way!

STEP 3

IF YOU’RE COLLECTING OUTDOORS… 

Make sure to choose a site of a size reasonable for the number of volunteers you have. 

If you’ll be out on the water in a kayak or small vessel, the best way to grab pollution is with a medium sized net. You can then collect it all in bags or bins affixed to your vessel, and the auditing and counting at the end once you’re back on land. 

Make sure you have the proper gear on hand to protect yourself and your volunteers:

  • Protective gloves, tongs, and/or nets for all volunteers
  • Collection bins, bags, or buckets (make sure they’re all a standard size!)
  • Printed brand audit data cards, along with pens / pencils & clipboards

Be sure to then take an “after” photo of the site to share your progress with our community by tagging the location and #breakfreefromplastic!

 

IF YOU’RE COLLECTING IN YOUR HOME OR OFFICE…

Avoid digging around in yucky days-old wet garbage – especially if you’re in a shared office! Instead, if you’re going to audit your home or office, designate a separate collection bin or bag for all the single-use packaging and products you use, and collect them all in that bin for 7 days. At the end of those 7 days, take an audit of everything in that collection bin, and record all the waste and brands on the data card.

Be sure to let your house or office mates know what you’re doing, either through a sign or just by telling them one-on-one. Not only will it stop them from throwing away your collected waste before you’ve audited it, but you can also start a conversation about solutions to plastic pollution!

Want to kick it up a notch? Get your entire block or neighborhood to participate in this brand audit! Set an ‘event day’ to do one big brand audit all at once at a local community center or park. Make sure you have a plan for waste disposal, and use this handy guide from the Mother Earth Foundation for more tips.

STEP 4: KNOW YOUR DATA CARD

You and your volunteers should know how to complete the data card or count plastic pollution through the app, so make sure you review this information well before your audit day. 

Include the information below about each plastic item. Download the Brand Audit Form pdf and use this form to follow these steps:

  1. Enter the name of the brand. (Hint: This will be the most visible word printed on the item!)
  2. Enter the item description. (Is it a water bottle? A toothbrush? The cradle of an old telephone?)
  3. Circle the type of product. (Water bottle? Food packaging. Toothbrush? Personal care. Old telephone cradle? Household products.)
  4. Circle the type of material. (Bottle? Probably PET. Toothbrush? That depends – probably unknown. Telephone cradle? If you find the number inside the chasing arrows, you’ll know!)
  5. Circle the number of layers the product has. (Is it a food wrapper, or one of those pouch / sachet things that shampoo and detergent come in? Those are usually multi-layer. If you’re not sure, circle ‘unsure’!)
  6. Finally, check the box if that product is accepted for recycling by your local waste management. (Hint: Suggestions on how to find that information are above.👆

Download the helpful visual guide to help you identify the types of product and material for each piece of trash you find. Pollution with unidentifiable brands should still be listed and classified by product and material type, if known. 

STEP 5: MAKE A PLAN FOR YOUR DATA

We have both a printable data card to record the data by hand and the Trashblitz app to record the data digitally. Even if you use the printable data card, you will still need to report the data through the Trashblitz app after your cleanup. (Maybe after you’ve had a chance to wash your hands and get back to wifi!)

Regardless of which one you use, you can do the count by:

  1. Gathering all collected waste together, and counting at the end. Divide all collected items into piles by type, and then divide each of those piles into groups by brand. Count all of the pieces, and record their descriptions, material types, and local recyclability on the Brand Audit Form or in the app.
  2. Categorize the items by brand as you collect them. Have each volunteer team record the item descriptions and tally them as they’re collecting trash. Two or three people can be collecting items and calling out brands they find them, while a third person marks the tally (on the data card or the app), adding tally marks for each branded piece of pollution as it’s put into the collection bins or bags.

The first method is easiest if you are cleaning up a large area with a huge amount of waste (i.e. piles of waste, shovel-fulls at a time), while the second method is easier for coastal or [city] clean-ups with fewer or more isolated pieces of waste.

STEP 6: YOU’RE READY!

  1. Collect all the waste in your designated site area.

STEP 7: LET’S GET SOCIAL

Take photos of the piles of plastic from each brand and post it to social media. Tag the manufacturer and don’t forget to use the hashtag #breakfreefromplastic!

STEP 8: NOW CLEAN IT UP!

Clean the audit area carefully and properly, remembering to leave the site cleaner than before you started.

STEP 9: SEND IN THE DATA

In order for your awesome counts to be available to others and used in our reporting, enter your data, upload your photos along with a scanned copy/screenshot/excel file of the actual data form, and submit them via the app or the online form.

STEP 10: RETURN TO SENDER

If you have the resources to do so, box up the branded items and send it back to the manufacturer. Include a letter to the company describing the purpose of your brand audit  and urge them to #breakfreefromplastic!

Done with your Brand Audit?

Send us your data.

Coming soon

What Are We Doing With This Data?

Through brand audits, #breakfreefromplastic aims to hold polluting corporations accountable, to drive calls for innovations in product packaging and waste management, and to bring people together who want to take action for a future where beach and community clean-ups are a thing of the past.   Find out which companies are responsible for most of the plastic waste collected around the globe!

Find out here

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