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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

 

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‘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: 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?

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.

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.
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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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Bakeries hand out 267 million plastic bags, Green Earth says

Bakeries hand out 267 million plastic bags, Green Earth says

While levies and campaigns have cut the use of plastic at least in some of the shops in Hong Kong, one sector has steadily moved in the opposite direction, RTHK reports.

According to an environmental group, Green Earth, most of the bakeries in Hong Kong are handing out an excessive amount of plastic bags – about three bags for each purchase.

It said the use of plastic bags by bakeries increased since the introduction of the levy. In 2017, bakeries used more than 267 million bags – up by 2 percent from 2009 and despite an overall drop of 5.6 percent in the total number of plastic bags handed out.
The Secretary for the Environment, Wong Kam-sing, has said that the government will review the 50 HK cent charge per bag introduced in 2009. He said authorities will study the levy and the exemptions granted to certain shops.

Under current rules, non-sealed items such as bread do not come under the levy.
Green Earth’s founder Edwin Lau says bakeries use more plastic bags as items wrapped in plastic are then put into another one.

He told RTHK’s Altis Wong that the government should consider extending the levy to cover additional bags given by bakeries.

Photo: RTHK

Article originally posted in Greenearth HK.

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An Incomplete Law, but Good First Step in New York for Plastic Bag Pollution

An Incomplete Law, but Good First Step in New York for Plastic Bag Pollution

After Surfrider chapters in New York have been advocating for a single-use plastic bag ban for years, the Governor is finally showing that the state will act on plastic pollution. The New York State annual budget passed this week, which included legislation banning the use of thin film plastic bags in the state. The ban will go into effect on March 1, 2020.

The legislation bans New York stores from using plastic bags, except bags for restaurant orders, deli or meat counter products, bulk items, newspapers, dry cleaner garments and waste management.

This is a great first step towards reducing plastic bag litter in New York, but the legislation does have a serious flaw, it does nothing to incentivize reusable bags. As we have learned from the success of California’s statewide bag ban, it is imperative that a ban on plastic bags also include a fee on paper and reusable bags at checkout to ensure that the use of paper bags does not skyrocket.  Though paper bags are biodegradable in the natural environment and do not cause the same damages as plastic, they also have an environmental footprint including the energy and water needed to produce them.

Surfrider has seen legislation like this backfire in other parts of the country, as consumers simply switch to using paper bags instead of plastic. For example, after the passage of a plastic bag ban in the city of Portland, paper bag usage increased 491%In contrast, a survey of grocery stores during a six month period before and after the California statewide bag ban demonstrated a 61 percent reduction in the number of paper bags provided to customers. This results of this study also found that in 86 percent of transactions, no bag was purchased after the bill went into effect.

Surfrider strongly recommended that the legislation in New York include a fee on paper bags to incentivize the use of reusable bags. As Surfrider’s Plastic Bag Ban Activist Toolkit demonstrates, this is clearly the most successful type of bag law in terms of reducing plastic pollution and minimizing the environmental impacts of other single-use alternatives such as paper.

Speaking to the flaw in the legislation, Surfrider Foundation Legal Director Angela Howe said, “While we applaud the intention of this bill to reduce single-use plastics, it unfairly puts the burden on municipalities to make it a complete and satisfactory bag regulation.”

The silver lining is that the New York bag legislation includes a pathway for local governments like counties and cities to pass their own legislation, adding a fee on paper bags to the plastic bag ban language.

Surfrider chapters and volunteers will keep up the pressure to make those changes at the county level. So stay tuned, the fight is not over in New York to ensure no more plastic bags enter our ocean and plague our beaches!

Article originally posted in Surfrider.

 

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