Coca-Cola, one of the most popular soda brands in the world could also be the largest plastic polluter in the world.
A new audit discovered the Georgia-based soda company contributes to more plastic litter than the next top three polluters combined.
The news follows leaked documents that revealed Coke had tried to kill off the introduction of a deposit and refund scheme on plastic bottles to protect its profits.
The global audit was conducted by the global movement Break Free From Plastics, which employed more than 72 000 volunteers to comb beaches, waterways and streets around the world in search of plastic bottles, cups, wrappers, bags, and scrap –it took place for just one day in September, according to The Intercept.
Following the global clean-up, the volunteers found 50 different types of plastic from nearly 8,000 different brands.
A total of 475 000 pieces of waste was collected and 11,732 of it belonged to Coca-Cola –the next biggest contributors to the plastic pollution in the audit were Nestle, PepsiCo, Mondelez International.
The rest of the companies include Unilever, Mars, P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, Phillip Morris, and Perfetti Van Melle.
Coca-Cola was also found to have to most plastic waste in Africa and Europe, while ranking second in Asia and South America.
However, it was Nestle that was the largest plastic polluter in North America, followed by the Solo Company that makes the iconic red cups and in third was Starbucks.
Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement said in a statement, “This report provides more evidence that corporations urgently need to do more to address the plastic pollution crisis they’ve created.
‘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.’
The Intercept was able to contact Coca-Cola about the new audit, which responded in an email 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.”
The firm also shared that it is ‘investing locally in every market to increase recovery of our bottles and cans’ however, leaked documents, obtained by The Intercept, from 2017 suggested otherwise.
The documents revealed evidence of what Coca-Cola called a ‘fight back’ against the proposal to boost recycling in Britain – even though the firm complies with such schemes in other countries.
The firm was trying to kill off the introduction of a deposit and refund scheme on plastic bottles to protect its profits.
A Greenpeace investigation revealed that an internal report from Coca-Cola Europe includes what the firm calls a risk matrix, which outlines issues that could hurt the company’s business.
The document, entitled Public Policy Risk Matrix & Lobby Focus, includes a section headlined ‘Fight Back’, covering bottle deposit schemes and increased collection and recycling targets.
Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace, which revealed Coco-Cola’s lobbying, said: ‘Coke was parading a vague plan to reduce its plastic footprint.
But these revelations show that Coke’s real plan is to keep churning out millions of single-use plastic bottles and take no responsibility for what happens to them.’