A report recently released by the NGO Tearfund revealed that four global drink giants are responsible for an obscene amount of plastic pollution in six developing countries. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle and Unilever are reportedly contributing more than half a million tonnes of plastic pollution every year.  

From that waste, roughly 60% of plastic is then either burned or dumped, contributing to 4.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – that’s the total emission of 2 million cars in the UK per year.  

The six countries – Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines — may lack in efficient waste management systems leaving polluting companies with a moral responsibility to provide sustainable alternatives. Coca-Cola was revealed to be by far the worst offender, contributing to 200,000 tons of plastic burned or dumped each year. 

“These companies are selling plastic in the full knowledge that it will be burnt or dumped in developing countries: scarring landscapes, contributing to climate change and harming the health of the world’s poorest people,” said Dr Ruth Valerio, Tearfund, the director of global advocacy and influencing.  

In a statement, Coca-Cola said that Tearfund had raised serious issues and that they are working on making sure that every plastic bottle contains “at least 50% recycled plastic by 2030.”  

However, Tearfund believes that these companies are not going far enough. As part of their ‘Rubbish Campaign,’ Tearfund is urging companies to follow four commitments: 

  1. Report by 2020 on the number of units of single-use plastic products sold  
  1. Reduce halve the number of these products by 2025  
  1. Ensure one single-use plastic item is collected for everyone you sell by 2022  
  1. Work with waste pickers to provide employment with dignity  

Plastic Pollution 

When it comes to environmental issues, plastic pollution is high up on the list. It pollutes our oceans, our lands and even our bodies. From production to waste management, plastic is a deadly polluter at every stage. However, since the 1950s, the demand for plastic has surged. 

Today, the material can be found in most items. It’s affordability and efficiency make it useful, but its harmful impact on the environment is becoming more and more clear. While more countries are phasing out single-use plastics and bags, holding companies accountable to that same standard is vital now more than ever. 

Find out more on the impact of plastic pollution: 

Aisha Mohamed