Consumers are contributing to the plastic pollution crisis

Top fast moving goods companies are churning out plastic pollution ‘solution’ projects that do very little to solve the plastic pollution crisis, and consumers are buying their lies.

The Break Free From Plastic global movement has tracked and analyzed projects that seven major companies and eight alliances claim are part of their response to plastic pollution.

Titled Missing the Mark: Unveiling Corporate False Solutions to the Plastic Pollution Crisis the report categorizes 265 corporate projects to determine how much attention companies are giving proven solutions such as reuse, compared to false solutions.

Out of a total of 265 projects from 2018 to April 2021, only 39 were focused on reuse and a total of 226 projects were designated as false solutions to the plastic pollution crisis as defined by experts from the Break Free From Plastic movement.

The report analyzed the initiatives of Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Mars, Inc., Mondelez International, Nestlé, Unilever and Coca-Cola Company, consistent top polluters in the global brand audits conducted by Break Free From Plastic.

“The world’s top polluting companies claim to be tackling plastic pollution, but the evidence for how serious they are is in the numbers,” said Emma Priestland, Break Free From Plastic Corporate Campaigns Coordinator.

“These companies are pursuing false solutions that range from potentially damaging at worst, and simple wishful thinking, at best,” said Priestland. “What the findings reveal is that only 15% of the projects are proven solutions like reuse, refill, and alternative delivery systems. Instead, these companies are investing in projects that do little to eliminate single-use plastics.”

The report ranked the companies from absolute worst to least worst. It finds that Procter & Gamble is the absolute worst at solving plastic pollution, and Unilever the least worst, but still performing poorly.

“One million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. More than half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold this year but fewer than one-third of those plastic bottles will be recycled,” said New Jersey environmentalist Lisa McCormick. “Plastic touches all of our lives, from the food packaging we buy to the computers we work with and the cars we drive. But many of the plastics you touch in your daily life are used only once and thrown away.”

McCormick warned that so much of plastic is ending up in the ocean that in just a few years, we might end up with a pound of plastic for every three pounds of fish in the sea. “But the future of plastics in our ocean will be determined by the way we handle plastics on land,” said McCormick.

The oceans contain more pounds of plastic than pounds of fish, but the environment was not even among the top 4 issues in a recent poll conducted ahead of the presidential campaign

“This report offers yet another example of big brands failing to prioritize reuse and the reduction of throwaway packaging,” said Greenpeace USA Global Project Leader Graham Forbes.

“It is clear that reuse-based alternatives are essential for these companies to remain viable in a climate-safe future and end their contributions to the plastic pollution crisis,” said Forbes. “Instead of working with the fossil fuel industry to promote false solutions, these companies must end their reliance on single-use plastics and scale-up systems of reuse globally.”

In Asia, we’ve been seeing a lot of these false solutions that these companies and their alliances are peddling,” said Yuyun Ismawati of Nexus3 Foundation in Indonesia and a member of the expert panel which analyzed the corporations’ initiatives. “Chemical recycling creates new toxic waste; plastic to fuel or Refuse Derived Fuel is contrary to the circular economy, and plastic offsetting is upsetting because it fails to answer the plastic crisis. “

“These types of initiatives show a lack of ambition and prioritization of alternative product delivery methods,” said Ismawati. “Multinational corporations have more than enough resources to invest in new delivery systems, reuse, refill and redesign, that would allow for a dramatic reduction in the use of single-use plastics. They should change the way of doing business and stop greenwashing.”

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