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The Climate Emergency Unpacked

New report reveals how major brands are inviting Big Oil into your kitchen
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
The Climate Emergency Unpacked

A report released by Greenpeace USA reveals how consumer goods companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé are driving the expansion of plastic production and threatening the global climate and communities around the world.

The report, ‘The Climate Emergency Unpacked: How Consumer Goods Companies are Fueling Big Oil’s Plastic Expansion’, exposes the business links between the world’s largest brands and fossil fuel companies, and the overall lack of transparency around emissions from plastic packaging. 

‘The same well-known brands that are driving the plastic pollution crisis are helping to fuel the climate crisis. Despite their best efforts to appear climate friendly, companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé are working alongside the fossil fuel industry to expand plastic production, which could lock the world into catastrophic emissions levels and a planet warmed beyond saving.’

Greenpeace USA Global Plastics Project Leader

Plastics and petrochemicals

While the plastics supply chain is largely opaque, the report identified relationships between the nine major consumer goods companies researched, and at least one major fossil fuel and/or petrochemical company.

According to the report, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Mondelēz, Danone, Unilever, Colgate Palmolive, Procter & Gamble and Mars all buy packaging from manufacturers supplied with plastic resin or petrochemicals by well-known companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron Phillips, Ineos and Dow.

Without transparency around these relationships, consumer goods companies are largely able to avoid accountability for environmental or human rights violations committed by the companies that supply plastic for their packaging. 

‘Cosy relationships’

The report states that for decades, consumer goods companies have partnered with fossil fuel companies to promote plastic recycling – despite its failures.

It elaborates on how these industries have worked together to oppose legislation that would restrict single-use packaging and advocated for so-called ‘chemical or advanced recycling’ projects.

The report also finds that the fossil fuel and consumer goods industries often work through front groups that advocate for these false solutions, including the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, the Recycling Partnership and the American Chemistry Council.

‘It is clear that many consumer goods companies want to hide their cosy relationships with fossil fuel and petrochemical companies, but this report reveals the extent to which they are working toward common goals that pollute the planet and harm communities worldwide.

‘If these companies truly cared about the environment, they would end these alliances and move away from single-use plastics immediately.’

Greenpeace USA Global Plastics Project Leader

Acting on plastic

Without urgent action, plastic production could triple by 2050, according to industry estimates.

According to estimates by CIEL, this projected growth would increase global emissions from the plastic lifecycle by over 50% on 2019 levels by 2030, equivalent to nearly 300 coal-fired power plants.

This is the same timeframe that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned human-caused emissions must fall by nearly 50% to limit warming to 1.5℃.

Greenpeace is calling on consumer goods companies to urgently move toward systems of reuse and package-free products.

Companies must phase out all single-use plastics and be more transparent about their plastic footprint, including the climate footprint of their packaging.

Companies are urged to support an ambitious global plastics treaty that addresses the entire lifecycle of plastic and emphasises reduction. 

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