Coca-Cola leading plastic polluter worldwide for second year in a row

Coca-Cola accounts for 3.3 million tons of plastic packaging annually, which roughly accounts for 200,000 bottles every minute.

Image Credit: George Frey/Bloomberg

In a 2019 audit about which company was the largest plastic polluter, Coca-Cola topped the list. The report confirmed Coca-Cola was responsible for more plastic waste for the second year in a row.

The audit was conducted by Break Free From Plastic, a movement to eliminate plastic worldwide, and consisted of 848 cleanup event on six continents in 51 countries. Plastic waste was collected from beaches, waterways, city streets and neighborhoods over the course of a day in which 475,000 pieces of plastic waste was compiled among 72,541 volunteers. According to the audit, 11,732 pieces of plastic were directly from Coca-Cola products topping the list with Nestle and PepsiCo not far behind.

Image Credit: Forbes

“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 Break Free From Plastic, said. “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.”

Coca-Cola accounts for 3.3 million tons of plastic packaging annually, which roughly accounts for 200,000 bottles every minute, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

“We cannot recycle our way out of the plastic problem, and companies that are claiming it is the solution are simply avoiding making real change.”

Break Free From Plastic

While Coca-Cola’s released a plastic bottle made of recycled marine plastic in 2019 and vowed to collect and recycle “the equivalent of every bottle or can it sells globally,” recycling is not the solution it claims to be. Not only can plastic be recycled just a few times before the polymer chains shorten leading to deterioration of quality, plastics that are recycled are made into products that won’t ever be recycled again, True Activist reported.

Break Free From Plastic will conduct another audit this month for 2020.

“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,” Hernandez said.


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