The global movement Break Free From Plastic released its report on the most plastic polluting brands.
You can download the audit report Branded Vol II for the details, but in a nutshell, the global audit was conducted on World Clean Up Day on September 21, 2019 by over 72,000 individuals across 51 countries to conduct 484 brand audits. The findings revealed that Coca-Cola was responsible for more than the combined waste of the immediate 3 runners ups, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Mondelez International.
For a day, the 72k strong volunteers took over the beaches, waterways and streets that lined both homes and offices to pick up your all-too-ordinary and familiar plastic trash. Water and soda bottles, caps, wrappers, cups, shopping bags and everything in between, cumulating in a grand total of 476,423 pieces of plastic waste of which 43% was marked with a clear consumer brand.
Coca-Cola has been carefully communicating on its efforts to capture and recycle its packaging waste, and responded to questions with regards to the audit with an emailed statement:
“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. [...] We are investing locally in every market to increase recovery of our bottles and cans and recently announced the launch in Vietnam of an industry-backed packaging recovery organization, as well as a bottler-led investment of $19 million in the Philippines in a new food-grade recycling facility. We are also investing to accelerate key innovations that will help to reduce waste, including new enhanced recycling technologies that allow us to recycle poor quality PET plastic, often destined for incineration or landfill, back to high quality food packaging material.”
Curating its image as an environmental leader and true to their statement, they recently revealed their "ocean plastic" bottles in an effort to advocate for recycling as a solution towards zero-waste. The partnership with Ioniqa Technologies, Indorama Ventures and Mares Circulares (Circular Seas) enabled for the production of 300 prototype bottles out of plastic litter recovered from the Mediterranean sea and beaches which was previously considered unusable, deteriorated marine waste. The focus was largely on the new technology made possible thanks to the company, and the recyclable aspect of the bottle, and they were transparent with the fact that the bottles actually consisted of 25% recycled marine plastics and require 75% virgin plastics.
Moreover, they pledged to collect and recycle “the equivalent of every bottle or can it sells globally.” last year and have funded several "zero-waste"-labeled initiatives that support collection and recycling efforts. But zero-waste advocates continue to argue that the recycling solution disguised as zero-waste creates a real problem, one that comforts consumers in their current addiction to single-use packaging.