BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 16 Oct '17

New audits expose the companies behind plastic pollution

The Break Free From Plastic movement is demanding that companies such as Nestlé, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo stop producing single-use plastic, and that policymakers legislate against it.

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, and waste management and recycling schemes failing to keep up, the problem needs to be tackled by the brands who are putting all this single-use plastic in circulation.

Brands on beaches

The Break Free From Plastic movement, which includes Greenpeace, is calling on local communities across the globe to use beach clean-ups to help identify the main global polluters.

The first of these ‘brand audits’ took the form of an eight-day beach clean-up carried out by a large number of volunteers in the Philippines this September. Now, brand audits have started in other countries including Croatia, Spain and the Netherlands.

Early results suggest globally recognised brands from global fast-moving consumer goods companies such as Nestlé, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are among the top polluters. All data and details of the methodology can be viewed here.

‘The newly devised brand audit methodology, tested in several countries, is revealing that the worst plastic polluters are some of the biggest companies in the world – those are clearly the ones who need to take responsibility. Producing and using absurd amounts of single-use plastics day after day is clearly devastating for our oceans. The only solution is to stop this practice by developing alternative delivery models. We will never be able to recycle our way out of this crisis. Both governments and companies have to start phasing out the worst single-use plastics.’

DR SANDRA SCHÖTTNER
Oceans and plastics campaigner, Greenpeace Germany

Time for action

EU institutions and member states are currently revising their waste legislation, and the Commission will publish a Strategy on Plastics in the Circular Economy by the end of 2017.

Delphine Levi Alvares, coordinator of Break Free From Plastic Europe, said the approach presents a unique opportunity to address marine plastic pollution at source, and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

She noted that the EU has placed prevention and reduction of waste at the top of its waste management hierarchy, and that the survival of our oceans depends on that commitment being transformed into action.

Delphine added, ‘We call on the EU Commission and member states to agree an EU-wide, binding marine litter reduction target and take legal measures to reduce significantly the use of single-use plastics and microplastics in the forthcoming Plastics Strategy.’

Breaking free

Since its launch in September 2016, over 900 non-governmental organisations from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reduction in single-use plastics and lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis.

Beside Greenpeace, Break Free From Plastic members include Zero Waste Europe, Surfrider Foundation, Oceana, Story of Stuff, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Seas at Risk, among many others.