‘Break Free From Plastic’ has come up with the rankings after conducting cleanup operations in 42 countries
Coca-Cola has been ranked as the top plastic polluter among multinational corporate brands in the world, and second in Bangladesh.
“Break Free From Plastic” movement’s global corporate brand audit report, titled “Branded: In Search of the World’s Corporate Plastic Polluters”, published in October this year, came up with the rankings.
The movement’s member organizations collected 187,851 pieces of plastic pollutants by carrying out 239 cleanup operations recently in 42 countries on six continents between August and September.
Around 10,000 volunteers had participated in the cleanup operations carried out by 1,300 member organizations worldwide.
The audit result shows that around 65% of all collected plastic waste was marked with a clear consumer brand, of which 33,613 pieces were multinational branded plastics.
Some 9,216 pieces of Coca-Cola, 5,750 of Pepsi Co, 2,950 of Nestlé, 1,843 of Danone and 1,664 pieces of plastic of Mondelez International brand were found.
Coca-Cola was found in almost every country _ 40 out of 42. Around 75% of the total 239 cleanup operations found Coca-Cola as a primary waste producer.
Even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from any inhabited land, Coca-Cola branded plastic waste was found by “Break Free From Plastic” volunteers.
However, the world’s top plastic polluter, Coca-Cola, came in second place in Bangladesh from the result of one cleanup involving 300 pieces of plastic bottles.
Among others, 670 pieces Perfetti van Melle, 245 Pepsi Co, 72 Philip Morris and 52 pieces of Unilever plastic pollutants were found in Bangladesh.
Shamima Akhter, public affairs and communications director of Coca-Cola Bangladesh, said: “Both producer and consumers have the responsibility. We cleanup plastic every year through campaign programs, as part of our social responsibility.
“Consumers should also be more aware about not discarding bottles in places that pollute the environment. Plastic is the primary concern behind ocean litter, but plastic bottles come from market demand.”
“Consumer behaviour should be changed. Otherwise, it is not possible for a single company to tackle environmental pollution. Coca-Cola has fixed a goal to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can that the company sells globally by 2030,” she added.
Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) is the member organization of “Break Free From Plastic” movement that organized the only cleanup program in Bangladesh.
ESDO Secretary General Shahriar Hossain said: “Plastic is the main concern for environment pollution. Coca-Cola has been recognized as the top polluter because their bottles of different sizes and shapes are the highest in number worldwide. Some of their bottles are recyclable and some are non-recyclable. Coca-Cola recycles only 20% of their plastic bottles worldwide.
“They are polluting the environment and for that reason, they should pay for what they are damaging,” he said.
“The US and EU want to ban plastic gradually. It is not possible in a day or two, so they formulating laws and regulations to first reduce and then ban plastic bottles,” Shahriar added.
The “Break Free From Plastic” movement’s audit report covers only some areas, and conducts few cleanups in each country. There are, however, limitations on brand auditing using what they collect, segregate and count as polluters.
A total of 70 cleanups in the USA, 22 in Tanzania, 12 in Slovenia, 29 in Morocco, 16 in Mexico and 11 in Italy were conducted; while only a single cleanup was carried out in Bangladesh and some other countries.
An estimated 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced in total since the 1950s. Only 9% of that has been recycled, 12% incinerated and the remaining 80% largely ended up in landfills, oceans, or loose in the environment.