Senior Editor
plastic in ocean

An audit that spanned 42 countries found the top three worst offenders. Image: Justin Hofman/Greenpeace

The Inertia

You probably already know this, but Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé make a lot of plastic garbage. According to a global audit, those three companies are the worst plastic polluters worldwide.

The audits, which were organized on World Clean Up Day by Greenpeace and the Break Free From Plastic movement, spanned 42 countries and collected a horrifying amount of garbage. “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,” reads a release from Break Free From Plastic, a group that is pushing to reduce single-use plastics around the world. “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.”

The audit worked off of 239 cleanups and collected over 187,000 pieces of plastic, figured out what company made them, then ranked each company. “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,” the release explained.

The most common kind of plastic they found was polystyrene, which is hardly ever recyclable. Of course, the brands making the plastic aren’t the ones throwing it away, but Break Free From Plastic organizers hold them accountable. “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.”


For the entire set of results, please find Break Free From Plastic’s brand audit report


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