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“Zero-progress”: Coca-Cola named top plastic polluter for third year in a row

coca cola plastic pollution
Maria Mendiola/ Unsplash

The American multi-national is closely followed by Pepsi and Nestlé.

In its annual survey, Break Free From Plastic named Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestlé the world’s top plastic polluters, accusing the multi-nationals of “zero progress”. It is the third year in a row that the companies top the charts.


Results are based on the 346,494 pieces of plastic waste collected by Break Free From Plastic members and volunteers. The plastic waste was collected in 55 different countries and 63% of it was marked with a clear consumer brand. Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestlé were the brands with the greatest amount of plastic waste.

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Coca-Cola pollutes more than Pepsi and Nestlé combined

Out of all the waste collected, volunteers recorded 13,834 branded Coca-Cola plastics – more plastic than the next two top global polluters combined.

The Break Free From Plastic movement is calling on companies to urgently reduce the amount of single-use plastic they use. “The top polluters must reveal how much single-use plastic they use, then set clear, measurable targets for reducing the quantity of single-use plastic items they produce. Finally, they must reinvent their product delivery systems to move beyond single-use plastic altogether,” says the movement.

The message is clear: it is up to the producer, not the consumer, to reduce plastic pollution.

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The top polluters must reveal how much single-use plastic they use


However, Coca-Cola say they are addressing plastic waste. “Globally, we have a commitment to get every bottle back by 2030, so that none of it ends up as litter or in the oceans, and the plastic can be recycled into new bottles,” said a company spokesperson. “Bottles with 100% recycled plastic are now available in 18 markets around the world, and this is continually growing.”

Plastic pollution is one of the great concerns of the 21st century, particularly when it comes to bodies of water. More than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year. As plastic is not biodegradable, the waste accumulates, and scientists estimate that the ocean floor is home to 14 million tons of microplastics. Plastic pollution has irreversible consequences on sea life but also on the human food chain.

>> READ MORE: Single-use plastics destroy our oceans: what can we do?

According to Break Free From Plastic, the top ten plastic polluters are: The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Nestlé; Unilever, Mondelez International, Mars, Inc., Procter & Gamble, Philip Morris International, Colgate-Palmolive, and Perfetti Van Melle.