​Half of the world's plastic pollution can be traced back to 56 companies​

New research shows a few multinational companies, including Philip Morris International and Coca-Cola, are major contributors to global plastic pollution, a study finds.

Sofia Quaglia reports for The Guardian.


In short:

  • Researchers identified 56 major companies responsible for half of all plastic waste, with six companies –Altria, Philip Morris International, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Danone and PepsiCo– producing a quarter of that.
  • Over five years, the team collected 1,870,000 items of plastic waste across 84 countries.
  • Companies are making efforts to increase recyclability and reduce virgin plastic use.
  • Despite corporate initiatives, plastic production and pollution have risen in lockstep, challenging the effectiveness of current recycling efforts.

Key quote:

"The industry likes to put the responsibility on the individual (...) But it’s the brands, it’s their choice for the kinds of packaging [they use] and for embracing this throwaway model of delivering their goods. That’s what’s causing the greatest abundance of trash."

— Marcus Eriksen, plastic pollution expert from The 5 Gyres Institute and co-author of the study.

Why this matters:

Identifying major contributors to plastic pollution allows for greater accountability. Public awareness can lead to pressure on these companies to implement sustainable practices, invest in research and development of alternative materials, and take corporate social responsibility seriously.

Plastics manufacturing is currently one of the largest industries in the U.S.

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