Polluters Bury their Heads in the Sand Instead of Committing to Reduce their Plastic Footprint

Polluters Bury their Heads in the Sand Instead of Committing to Reduce their Plastic Footprint


Nusa Dua (Bali, Indonesia), October 29th Today at the Our Ocean conference, corporations are yet again refusing to take responsibility for their role in creating and perpetuating the plastic pollution crisis.

At a side-event organised by Ocean Conservancy and Circulate Capital, companies exposed as the world’s Top Polluters by the recent #breakfreefromplastic brand audit report committed funds to a new “catalytic capital fund” to “solve” the plastic pollution crisis. Coca-Cola, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and PepsiCo all in the top 10 of corporate brands found on plastic pollution worldwide sat alongside Dow, one of the world’s largest producers of plastic, as self-identified “frontrunning” corporate leaders working to tackle plastic pollution through improved waste management and technology.

Global #breakfreefromplastic Coordinator Von Hernandez states, “Plastic is pollution the minute it is made. The problem with plastic pollution is not one of waste management or ocean leakage; rather, the problem is that there is simply too much plastic being pushed upon us by industry than can be safely and properly dealt with. In any crisis, the most important action is how you address the source of the problem.”

The very corporations pushing these inadequate solutions are at the same time pumping an overwhelming amount of plastic into markets across the world with no responsibility or intention for the plastic after its initial use.

If these companies are serious about addressing plastic pollution, they must significantly decrease and ultimately eliminate single-use plastics.  For a start, these corporations should disclose publicly the amount of plastic each of them is pushing into local markets and waste management systems across the world, and accept regulations instead of making weak, voluntary commitments. This ‘catalytic capital’ would be better invested in alternative delivery systems for products which don’t require single-use or plastic overpackaging. (See Leadership Challenge to Corporate Plastic Polluters of #breakfreefromplastic)

Experts on the ground in cities and communities  have already innovated on zero waste solutions to improve local collection and waste prevention systems, and expose problematic products. Examples can be found around the world in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, across Europe, the US for a fraction of the cost. For example, one zero waste project in the Philippines averages at $2.30 per person per year.3

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) has estimated that an initial influx of $30 million could provide zero waste programs for the entire Metro Manila area over two years. Corporations should be investing capital to support and replicate these solutions.

As the major contributors to the plastic pollution crisis, these companies should pursue true innovation in plastic reduction, instead of the same inadequate waste management approaches. Only then will we truly #breakfreefromplastic.




  1. ‘Branded: In Search of the World’s Top Corporate Plastic Polluters’  details the results of 239 cleanups in 42 countries on 6 continents. The report was released on October 9, 2018. http://bit.ly/brandauditreport2018
  2. On the eve of the 2018 Our Ocean Conference, the #breakfreefromplastic movement has released a challenge to the Top Polluters identified in the global brand audit to pursue real solutions to the plastic crisis, not the same hollow commitments and empty gestures. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2D6YhVN
  3. http://www.no-burn.org/whatawaste2-0/

#breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 1,300 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.


  1. Jed Alegado, +63917-6070248, jed@breakfreefromplastic.org
  2. Sherma Benosa, +63920-9038511, sherma@no-burn.org
  3. Claire Arkin, +1 9734444869, claire@no-burn.org
  4. Matthew Franklin, +44 7923 37 38 31,  matt@breakfreefromplastic.org



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Corporate Leadership Badly Needed to Reverse Plastic Pollution Crisis

Corporate Leadership Badly Needed to Reverse Plastic Pollution Crisis


Bali, Indonesia (October 28, 2018) — On the eve of Our Ocean Conference 2018, the global #breakfreefromplastic movement challenged corporations to  demonstrate real leadership to reverse the plastic pollution crisis instead of making more hollow commitments and empty gestures, which only tend to perpetuate the problem.

“To put an end to the plastic pollution crisis, corporations need to step up with meaningful, game-changing and  authentic measures that would significantly reduce their plastic footprint and move our societies away from the scourge of  single-use, throwaway and problematic plastic packaging,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of #breakfreefromplastic.

Movement leaders asserted that corporations have the ability and resources to solve the problem if they want to, but lamented that no large company has yet had the courage to implement serious plastics reduction policies and institute new delivery systems that do not rely on disposable, throwaway plastic.

A recently published Greenpeace report highlights that plans by 11 of  the world’s biggest fast-moving consumer goods corporations (FMCGs)  actually allow for an indefinite increase in their use of single-use plastics,  with no company planning to put the brakes on the growing production and marketing of single-use plastics.  

The four companies that reported the highest sales of single-use plastic products (Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Danone) were also the top four brands identified in a recent global Break Free From Plastic brand audit report following 239 plastic pollution cleanups in 42 countries.

“If we allow these corporations to carry on with business as usual, global plastic production will continue to rise, further aggravating the plastic pollution crisis. We need them to commit to  ambitious plastics use reduction targets. The planet needs real solutions. The time for greenwashing is over,” said Graham Forbes of Greenpeace.

“It is ironic that the  companies whom our brand audits have identified as topnotch polluters are the same companies who typically relish sponsoring beach cleanups. The planet would be better served if they would clean up their acts instead.” said Jane Patton, who coordinated #breakfreefromplastic’s most recent brand audits.

For her part, Delphine Lévi Alvarès, Coordinator of the Rethink Plastic alliance said, “this week, the European Parliament has shown that it is possible to take strong legislative action on plastic pollution. As governments start taking responsibility for resolving this crisis, so too must corporations! Given the scale of the problem, we can no longer rely on voluntary and arbitrary  targets coming from corporations.”

Warning of false solutions promoted by companies to greenwash their image and wash their hands of responsibility for the crisis, the global movement issued a Leadership Challenge to fast-moving consumer companies, which includes demands to:

  • Reduce (their) single-use plastic production and usage with a clear action plan and timeline and transparently reporting  on their plastic footprint ;
  • Invest in alternative product delivery systems, while disincentivising single-use, throwaway packaging;
  • Reject false and unproven solutions like thermal waste-to-energy incineration, plastic to fuel schemes, chemical recycling and other regrettable replacements;
  • Collaborate with retailers, governments and NGOs to create scalable solutions to plastic pollution – including support for ambitious legislation that rewards plastics reduction and penalizes plastics overuse.

According to the World Economic Forum, up to 12 million tonnes of plastic, often single-use items including packaging,  enter the sea from land every year. With plastic production expected to increase by 40% in the next decade, making it almost impossible for waste management and recycling schemes to keep up.

Multinational consumer brands have been flooding Asian countries with single-use plastic packaging, despite knowing that the resulting waste will inevitably  pollute these terrestrial and marine environments in the region,

“Despite the best efforts of our kelurahan (villages) to compost and recycle as much as they can, we are still left with waste that are beyond our capacity to manage. We call on companies to eliminate or redesign these problematic products and packaging and for the Indonesian government to ban straws, plastic bags, styrofoam, sachet, and microbeads,” Yuyun Ismawati from Alliance Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) emphasized.

Groups belonging to AZWI have been demonstrating zero waste solutions for  communities across Indonesia, with a focus on waste prevention, segregation and composting.

The annual Our Ocean Conference brings together representatives of governments, civil society, science, finance and businesses from around the world to discuss ocean protection and pledge commitments. //ends


Break Free From Plastic is a global movement of more than 1,400 member groups and thousands of individuals united around a common goal: to bring systemic change through a holistic approach that tackles plastic pollution across the entire plastics value chain, focusing on prevention rather than cure and on providing effective solutions.

Contact: Jed Alegado

             #breakfreefromplastic Asia Pacific Communications Officer



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European Parliament takes historic stand against single-use plastic pollution

European Parliament takes historic stand against single-use plastic pollution

National governments must follow suit, say campaigners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Strasbourg, 24/10/2018

The European Parliament has leapt forward to protect people and the environment from plastic pollution, and national governments must now show the same ambition, according to the Rethink Plastic alliance.

An overwhelming majority in the European Parliament voted today to strengthen the European Commission’s plan to cut pollution from single-use plastic items. [1] The Parliament voted to ban some of the most problematic throwaway products, such as expanded polystyrene food containers, and to ensure producers are held accountable for the costs of single-use plastic pollution. For fishing gear, one of the largest contributors to marine litter, harmonised standards will be developed and minimum collection and recycling targets will be set at the EU level. [2]

“The European Parliament has made history by voting to reduce single-use plastics and slash plastic pollution in our rivers and ocean” said Justine Maillot, EU Affairs Project Officer at Surfrider Foundation Europe on behalf of Rethink Plastic. “Citizens across Europe want to see an end to plastic pollution. It’s now up to national governments to keep the ambition high, and resist corporate pressure to continue a throwaway culture.”

However, campaigners are disappointed that the full Parliament did not adopt a ban on very light-weight single-use plastic bags supported by the Environment committee.

A leaked letter recently exposed how major plastic polluters such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Danone are lobbying national environment ministers to water down the directive. [3]

Representatives of EU national governments are expected to meet later this month to agree on their joint position, and the three-way negotiations between governments, the European Parliament, and the European Commission could then start as soon as early November.



[1] European Commission steps forward to cut on single-use plastics – but it’s just the beginning, Rethink Plastic alliance

[2] The measures adopted include:

  • A EU-wide ban of single-use plastic cotton buds, straws, plates and cutlery (with exemptions until 2023), beverage stirrers, balloon sticks, oxo-degradable plastics and expanded polystyrene food containers and cups
  • An obligation for EU countries to adopt measures to achieve a 25% reduction of the consumption of food containers and cups for beverages
  • An obligation for EU countries to reduce post-consumption waste from tobacco product filters containing plastic by 50 % by 2025 and 80 % by 2030,
  • Extended Producer Responsibilty (EPR) schemes that include the cost of clean up and awareness raising measures
  • Harmonised standards and an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for fishing gear, as well as a 50% collection target and a 15% recycling target for fishing gear by 2025
  • An obligation to separately collect 90% of beverage containers and ensure they are produced from 35% recycled content by 2025
  • An obligation to prevent the use of hazardous chemicals in the composition of sanitary items
  • An obligation to label products to inform consumers about the presence of chemicals of concern in certain single-use plastic products

These measures apply to all single-use plastics listed in the Annexes including bio-based and biodegradable plastics.

[3] Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle attempt to water down new plastics laws, leaked letter reveals, The IndependentDrinks giants rail against EU bottle cap plan, Euractiv

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Plastic producers could market single-use items as reusable to dodge EU ban

Plastic producers could market single-use items as reusable to dodge EU ban

European Parliament must close loopholes, say campaigners.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 10/10/2018

Producers could simply market items like throwaway plastic cups as reusable, under changes to a draft EU laws on single-use plastics tabled today in the European Parliament, the Rethink Plastic alliance of NGOs has warned.

The European Parliament’s environment committee voted on a proposal that would introduce new rules on plastics including bans on certain single-use plastic products responsible for marine pollution, and require European governments to set reduction targets for others.

Campaigners are concerned that the committee’s proposed definition of ‘single-use’ plastic items is too narrow, and could lead to producers easily avoiding bans, and would allow them to ignore reduction targets and other measures to reduce plastic pollution. [1]

Speaking on behalf of the Rethink Plastic alliance, Greenpeace EU chemicals policy director Kevin Stairs​ said: “This loophole is a serious oversight by the Parliament and goes against common sense. Everyone knows a throwaway plastic cup or straw when they see one – companies simply marketing them as reusable won’t stop pollution of our rivers and oceans. A turtle choked on relabelled plastic is still a dead turtle.”

The environment committee added very lightweight plastic bags, polystyrene food and drink containers, and products made of ‘oxo-degradable’ plastic [2] to the list of banned items originally proposed by the European Commission. The proposed rules would also require plastic bottles to be made with 35% recycled plastic and introduce collection and recycling targets for fishing gear, a key contributor to marine pollution.

The European Parliament will vote in plenary in the week of 22 October on the environment committee’s proposals.

Yesterday, the global Break Free From Plastic movement published the results of 239 clean-ups and brand audits in 42 countries on six continents, revealing the extent of plastic pollution. The companies responsible for the most plastic pollution were Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé. Full details at bit.ly/brandauditreport2018.

On the same day, a 260,000-strong petition calling for the legislation to hold companies responsible for plastic pollution was delivered to members of the European Parliament’s environment committee by Rethink Plastic, Break Free From Plastic and Sum of Us.



[1] The definition supported by the European Parliament’s environment committee concerns any plastic product “designed or placed on the market to be used only once over a short time span before it is discarded”.

[2] Oxo-degradable plastics are supposedly biodegradable plastics, which in reality break down into small fragments and contribute to harmful microplastic pollution in the oceans and other ecosystems.

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Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé found to be worst plastic polluters worldwide in global cleanups and brand audits

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé found to be worst plastic polluters worldwide in global cleanups and brand audits

For Immediate Release

Manila, Philippines (October 9, 2018) — Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé were the most frequent companies identified in 239 cleanups and brand audits spanning 42 countries and six continents, the Break Free From Plastic movement announced today. Over 187,000 pieces of plastic trash were audited, identifying thousands of brands whose packaging relies on the single-use plastics that pollute our oceans and waterways globally. Coca-Cola was the top polluter in the global audit, with Coke-branded plastic pollution found in 40 of the 42 participating countries. This brand audit effort is the most comprehensive snapshot of the worst plastic polluting companies around the world.

“These brand audits offer undeniable proof of the role that corporations play in perpetuating the global plastic pollution crisis,” said Global Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic Von Hernandez. “By continuing to churn out problematic and unrecyclable throwaway plastic packaging for their products, these companies are guilty of trashing the planet on a massive scale. It’s time they own up and stop shifting the blame to citizens for their wasteful and polluting products.”

The audits, led by Break Free From Plastic member organizations[1], found that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Danone, Mondelez International, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Perfetti van Melle, Mars Incorporated, and Colgate-Palmolive were the most frequent multinational brands collected in cleanups, in that order. This ranking of multinational companies included only brands that were found in at least ten of the 42 participating countries. Overall, polystyrene, which is not recyclable in most locations, was the most common type of plastic found, followed closely by PET, a material used in bottles, containers, and other packaging.

The top polluters in Asia, according to the analysis, were Coca-Cola, Perfetti van Melle, and Mondelez International brands. These brands accounted for 30 percent of all branded plastic pollution counted by volunteers across Asia. This year’s brand audits throughout Asia build upon a week-long cleanup and audit at the Philippines’ Freedom Island in 2017, which found Nestlé and Unilever to be the top polluters.

“We pay the price for multinational companies’ reliance on cheap throwaway plastic,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines Campaigner Abigail Aguilar. “We are the ones forced to clean up their plastic pollution in our streets and waterways. In the Philippines, we can clean entire beaches and the next day they are just as polluted with plastics. Through brand audits, we can name some of the worst polluters and demand that they stop producing plastic to begin with.”

In North and South America, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé brands were the top polluters identified, accounting for 64 and 70 percent of all the branded plastic pollution, respectively.

“In Latin America, brand audits put responsibility on the companies that produce useless plastics and the governments that allow corporations to place the burden, from extraction to disposal, in mostly vulnerable and poor communities,” said GAIA Coordinator for Latin America Magdalena Donoso. “BFFP members in Latin America are exposing this crisis  and promoting zero waste strategies in connection with our communities.”

In Europe, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé brands were again the top identified polluters, accounting for 45 percent of the plastic pollution found in the audits there. In Australia, 7-Eleven, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s brands were the top polluters identified, accounting for 82 percent of the plastic pollution found. And finally, in Africa, ASAS Group, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble brands were the top brands collected, accounting for 74 percent of the plastic pollution there.

“These brand audits are putting responsibility back where it belongs, with the corporations producing endless amounts of plastics that end up in the Indian Ocean,” said Griffins Ochieng, Programmes Coordinator for the Centre for Environment Justice and Development in Kenya. “We held cleanups and brand audits in two locations in Kenya to identify the worst corporate polluters in the region and hold them accountable. It is more urgent than ever, for the sake of communities that rely on the ocean for their livelihoods, health and well-being, to break free from plastic.

Break Free From Plastic is calling on corporations reduce their use of single-use plastic, redesign delivery systems to minimize or eliminate packaging, and take responsibility for the plastic pollution they are pumping into already strained waste management systems and the environment.

While the brand audits do not provide a complete picture of companies’ plastic pollution footprints, they are the best indication to date of the worst plastic polluters globally. The Break Free From Plastic movement is urging companies to end their reliance on single-use plastics, prioritizing innovation and alternative delivery systems for products. ENDS


For the entire set of results, please find Break Free From Plastic’s brand audit report here: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/globalbrandauditreport2018/

[1] Break Free From Plastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 1,300 groups 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

Photo and video:

For photo and video from brand audits around the world, click here: https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJWQQ88P


Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, P: +1 301 675 8766, perry.wheeler@greenpeace.org

Shilpi Chhotray, Break Free From Plastic Senior Communications Officer, P: +1 703 400 9986, shilpi@breakfreefromplastic.org

Claire Arkin, GAIA Campaign and Communications Associate, P: +1 510-883-9490, claire@no-burn.org

Greenpeace International Press Desk: +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org


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GAIA Response to World Bank Report, “What a Waste 2.0”

GAIA Response to World Bank Report, “What a Waste 2.0”

For Immediate Release
October 2, 2018

Claire Arkin, Campaign and Communications Associate, GAIA, claire@no-burn.org, 510-883-9490 ext: 111

Experts Urge Drastic Waste Reduction Measures Following Release of World Bank Waste Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 2, 2018, 10:00 am Pacific Standard Time

The new World Bank report, “What a Waste 2.0,” gives a clear and indisputable case for waste reduction, according to an international network of NGOs and waste experts, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). The group underscores that the world’s mounting waste problems can and must be avoided—and called on governments and development banks to put a bigger focus on proven waste reduction approaches and a halt to unsustainable waste management systems that incentivize waste rather than reducing it.

“With its new report, the World Bank sets down an unassailable argument that the world needs to focus urgently on serious waste reduction,” says Christie Keith, Executive Director at GAIA. “The report also provides very strong evidence that decades of business-as-usual waste management systems– such as landfilling and incineration—have failed to make any dent on the garbage crisis, and in fact, have worsened the problem. Clearly, we need new systems that focus on preventing waste, rather than failed systems that attempt to deal with waste only after it is in existence.”

“What a Waste 2.0” presents the challenging realities of the world’s current and projected waste generation. The report states that plastic is an increasing threat in the waste stream, making up 12% of the global waste composition. 40% of the plastic produced worldwide is in the form of single-use packaging.₁ Overall, a frightening 81% of the materials we discard are wasted, whether in landfills, open dumps, or incinerators. GAIA believes that the presence of these waste treatment facilities have abetted, rather than minimized, waste generation.

Instead of last-resort approaches like landfilling and incineration, highly effective preventive measures such as zero waste systems have been employed successfully in hundreds of cities by GAIA members all over the world.

“Solving the waste problem starts with the shift away from business-as-usual waste treatment systems,” states Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director of Zero Waste Europe. “By doing this, and adopting zero waste resource management systems, our members have led the way to meaningful waste reduction in their communities and cities through policy advocacy, citizen engagement, corporate accountability and design innovation.”

One example is the city of Roubaix in France where 25% of households participating in the zero waste pilot were able to reduce their waste generation by over 80%, and 70% reduced their waste by 50%. Many other cities have similar experiences of successful waste reduction programs.₂

“Zero waste systems that are decentralized, regionally appropriate, and community-led are proven solutions that are working successfully to reduce waste volumes not only in Europe but also in Asia, ” says Froilan Grate, Executive Director of GAIA Philippines.

Unlike expensive industrial waste management approaches, a city’s transition to zero waste costs considerably less and can take as little as two years to set up. For example, one zero waste project in the Philippines averages at $2.30 per person per year. GAIA has estimated that an initial influx of $30 million could provide zero waste programs for the entire Metro Manila area over two years, after which the capital would be paid back using the dramatic savings over current waste management expenditures, paving the way for further investment in zero waste systems.

Grate concludes: “With ‘What a Waste 2.0,’ the World Bank is repeating the same alarm bells it raised in its last report six years ago, but since then things have only gotten worse. We hope the World Bank along with governments and other institutions heed the message of these reports and massively shift all funding and action to waste reduction and zero waste—while phasing out wrong-headed approaches like landfilling and incineration, which led us into this mess in the first place. In the next six years, we shouldn’t have another ‘What a Waste 3.0’ report with even even more dire figures of how the world is failing to address waste, if the world shifts to zero waste now.”


₁ In partnership with the #breakfreefromplastic movement, GAIA members all over the world participated in waste and brand audits in time for World Clean-Up Day earlier this month, joining movement members in 6 continents and over forty countries. Through these brand audits over 250,000 pieces of plastic waste was collected worldwide.

In a brand audit, participants count the number of plastic items found in clean-ups that are associated with specific brands, and hold the most prevalent brands accountable for their role in the plastic pollution crisis. Unilever, Nestle, and Procter & Gamble were the most commonly found brands at cleanups in the Philippines. For more information, visit breakfreefromplastic.org.

₂ In the Philippines, all residents of Tacloban City now enjoy access to regular waste collection, compared to only 30% of residents two years ago, and are composting or recycling 64% of materials collected (from 2.5% previously) thanks to its zero waste program. The city also reduced its environmental leakage from 52% (105 tpd) of total waste to just 2.5% (5 tpd).


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