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Coca-Cola, sponsor of the Cop27, named “best plastic polluter” for the fifth consecutive year

When Cop27 announced its decision to partner with Coca-Cola in September 2022, activists criticized the decision, pointing to the US beverage company’s record as a leading plastic polluter. However, the Egyptian presidency ignored calls (AP)

Cop27 sponsor Coca Cola was named the best Plastic polluter for the fifth consecutive year, enraged climate activists worldwide.

The Brand Audit report released on Tuesday by Break Free From Plastic, a coalition of around 11,000 global organizations working to reduce single-use plastic, found Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Unilever and Mondelez to be among the worst polluters. in the world. for plastic waste.

Coca-Cola has topped the list for five consecutive years, although the company has run several environmental campaigns claiming it is trying to control its plastic waste.

The rights organization, however, called the statements “greenwashing” and “false allegations”.

A legal complaint was also filed against the company by 32 Filipino consumers in Manila against Coca ColaPepsi Cola, Nestlé, Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Colgate Palmolive and Universal Robina Corp (URC), demanding an end to plastic packaging or the removal of the “recycle me” label, calling it “misleading”.

They require companies to replace their packaging and invest in reusable and refillable product containers and refund the premium they paid for claiming recyclability.

“Companies’ continued use of misleading and misleading recyclability claims on their product labels and websites violates our consumer rights to information, safety and a healthy environment,” said Jade Carlyn Esguerra. , one of the plaintiffs.

“It falsely and misleadingly informs us and other Filipino consumers that we are making an environmentally conscious choice when we purchase and dispose of their plastic packaging in the barangay. [barrio]municipal or municipal recycling bins and material recovery facilities (MRF)”.

Some activists staged a protest at Cop27 place in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, demanding to “drive out the polluters”.

When Cop27 announced its decision to partner with Coca-Cola in September 2022, activists criticized the decision, pointing to the US beverage company’s record as a leading plastic polluter. However, the Egyptian presidency ignored the calls.

“After years of greenwashing and false solutions, companies have demonstrated that they cannot be counted on to drive systemic change through voluntary commitments,” the report states.

The organization said it analyzed garbage collection data over the past five years with the help of more than 200,000 volunteers in 87 locations to compile the Brand Audit 2022 report.

He defined top polluters as “the companies that pollute the most places in the world with the most plastic waste”.

The report says plastic packaging was found most often in food products, followed by household products, tobacco and packaging materials.

Small pouches and flexible packaging were a worrying trend in Asia and Africa. In Asia, companies sell food, personal care and household products in sachets, which is an intentional business strategy to market products in small quantities at low cost to appeal to consumers in emerging economies.

“The real costs of the bags are externalized as communities suffer the consequences of this low-value, non-recyclable waste that chokes waterways, burdens waste management systems and their workers, disrupts the livelihoods of coastal communities, creates health risks and contaminate food systems,” the report said. .

The report highlights the need for a global plastics treaty, which can put in place policies that drastically reduce plastic production and hold companies accountable for perpetuating this global crisis.

“Proven solutions centered on reuse and recharging already exist and have been proven in countries in the North and in the South,” the report adds.

A visitor photographs a bear made of plastic waste in the green zone of the Cop27 climate conference (Getty)

A visitor photographs a bear made of plastic waste in the green zone of the Cop27 climate conference (Getty)

Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic, said: “For decades the public has been conditioned to believe that the problem of plastic pollution, now manifesting itself in the unprecedented, pernicious and widespread contamination of all life on the planet, was caused by their own unruly ways and the failure of governments to institute and implement proper waste management systems.

“Our brand audits have now revealed the real causes of this crisis – and this is primarily due to the irresponsible and predatory corporate practice of saturating our societies with single-use plastics of all kinds without considering how they can be managed in an environmentally safe and benign manner,” he said.

Mr Hernandez added: ‘Now, more than ever, governments need to force polluters to invest in reuse and in alternative product delivery systems that avoid the problem in the first place.’

This story was published with the support of Climate monitoringCop27 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship

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