coca-cola is officially the world's biggest plastic polluter

"Recycling is not going to solve this problem."

by Roisin Lanigan
01 November 2019, 3:30pm

TGIF right! Ah, what better way to end the week than with some light, necessary but depressing news about the environment! If anything, this will make you reconsider that Diet Coke you're thinking of buying on the way home -- Coca-Cola has been named the world's biggest plastic polluter.

The findings come from a new audit that reveals the planet's biggest soda company contributes more plastic pollution than the next three polluters combined. The global audit was conducted by Break Free From Plastics, and involved a mammoth 72,000 volunteers combing beaches, waterways and streets all over the world in search of plastic bottles, cups, wrappers, bags and scrap.

Over the course of one day in September the audit recorded a staggering 475,000 pieces of waste was collected, of which 11,732 of belonged to Coca-Cola. Coke was followed by Nestle, PepsiCo and Mondelez International (a snack and confectionary company which owns Sour Patch, Milka, Cadbury and Toblerone, among many others).

The amount of waste varied slightly by region, but Coca-Cola's pollution was fairly ubiquitous across the board. They have the dubious honour of coming first in Africa and Europe, second in Asia and South America. In America, Nestle just inched in front, followed by the Solo Company (who make those red cups you see in bad teen movies). The audit also catalogued huge amounts of waste from Unilever, Mars, P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, Phillip Morris and Perfetti Van Melle products.

"This report provides more evidence that corporations urgently need to do more to address the plastic pollution crisis they've created," Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement said in a statement. "Their continued reliance on single-use plastic packaging translates to pumping more throwaway plastic into the environment. Recycling is not going to solve this problem.

Break Free From Plastic's nearly 1,800 member organizations are calling on corporations to urgently reduce their production of single-use plastic and find innovative solutions focused on alternative delivery systems that do not create pollution."

Coca-Cola have already responded to the dire claims made by this report. In an email statement to The Intercept the brand said: "Any time our packaging ends up in our oceans — or anywhere that it doesn't belong — is unacceptable to us. In partnership with others, we are working to address this critical global issue, both to help turn off the tap in terms of plastic waste entering our oceans and to help clean up the existing pollution."

Although the company are at least taking on board the findings of this audit, it's clear this problem is not going anywhere soon. And actions speak a lot louder than words.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

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