An annual global audit from the Break Free From Plastic movement has found the largest sources of plastic pollution. Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo are the top three most identified companies as sources of plastic pollution around the globe.

As part of their audit, Break Free From Plastic conducted 484 cleanups in 50 countries, on six continents. According to the audit, part of the problem is that plastic is not recyclable. Only 9% of plastic produced since 1950 has been recycled. The rest is incinerated, in landfills or left pollution in oceans, land and other areas. When plastic is burned it causes toxic pollution. If not incinerated or recycled, it breaks down into microplastics, which cause harm to ocean life.

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43% of collected plastic was marked with a clear consumer brand, like Coca-Cola or PepsiCo. Break Free From Plastic blames our “throwaway culture,” for much of the consumer waste. They argue that this throwaway mindset is at the core of many companies’ business model.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia plastic campaign coordinator Abigal Aguilar said of the audit, “Recent commitments by corporations like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo to address the crisis unfortunately continue to rely on false solutions like replacing plastic with paper or bioplastics and relying more heavily on a broken global recycling system. These strategies largely protect the outdated throwaway business model that caused the plastic pollution crisis, and will do nothing to prevent these brands from being named the top polluters again in the future.”

As China stops accepting and importing plastics for recycling, the rest of the world is scrambling to find solutions for the excess of plastic bottles created by these companies.

Coca-Cola has been outspoken about its research and innovation on reducing plastic in its bottles. Along with Pepsi, both companies have been working on sustainable plastics. Nestle has also publicized multiple plastics and pollution reduction strategies. But it’s time to step up very soon in a major way.

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Read more about plastic in One Green Planet, including news about a new movie showing the plastic supply chain.

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