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Waste audit names Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle as top plastic polluters

Waste audit names Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle as top plastic polluters
Children play in a large collection of plastic waste at Mahim Beach in Mumbai, India. The study released Monday cited hundreds of thousands of pieces of plastic waste, mostly in Southern Hemisphere nations. File Photo by Divyakant Solanki/EPA-EFE

Dec. 7 (UPI) -- A report published Monday by an international coalition of environmental activists identifies a number of companies that it says are the world's biggest plastic polluters -- and at the top of the list are the Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and Nestle.

The 57-page report, titled "Demanding Corporate Accountability for Plastic Pollution," was produced by the Philippines-based group Break Free From Plastic, which analyzed data generated by waste pickers who audited nearly 350,000 pieces of plastic in 55 countries.

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The audit was conducted mainly in countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

The analysis says waste pickers found about 14,000 pieces from Coca-Cola in 51 countries, 5,200 pieces from PepsiCo in 43 nations and 8,600 pieces from Nestle in 37.

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Other companies noted by the report include Unilever, Mondelez International, Mars, Procter & Gamble and Philip Morris International.

"It's not surprising to see the same big brands on the podium as the world's top plastic polluters for three years in a row," Abigail Aguilar, plastics campaign regional coordinator of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said in a statement.

"These companies claim to be addressing the plastic crisis yet they continue to invest in false solutions while teaming up with oil companies to produce even more plastic. To stop this mess and combat climate change, multinationals like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle must end their addiction to single-use plastic packaging and move away from fossil fuels."

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The companies are signatories to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program.

The pact calls for the "elimination of problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging through redesign, innovation" and new delivery and reuse models.

All three companies told The Guardian Monday they are working to address packaging waste.

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"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," a Coca-Cola spokesperson said. "Bottles with 100% recycled plastic are now available in 18 markets around the world, and this is continually growing."

PepsiCo said it's moving to cut pollution through "partnership, innovation and investments" and said part of that is a goal to reduce virgin plastic in the beverage business by 35% by 2025.

Nestle said it's making "meaningful progress" in sustainable packaging, but acknowledged the need for more efforts.

"We are intensifying our actions to make 100% of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 and to reduce our use of virgin plastics by one-third in the same period," a spokesperson said.

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