A global audit of plastic trash found that Coca-Cola was the most polluting brand for the second year in a row. The report, ‘BRANDED Volume II: Identifying the World’s Top Corporate Plastic Polluters’, was conducted by the Break Free From Plastic global movement. Coca-Cola was responsible for more plastic litter than the next top three polluters combined, namely Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Mondelēz International. 

The ranking was based on efforts by 72,541 on-the-ground volunteers in 51 countries who conducted 484 brand audits and collected 476,423 pieces of plastic waste, 43 per cent of which was marked with a clear consumer brand name, cataloguing almost 8,000 brands. The report was primarily based on the number of countries where these companies’ waste was found to be polluting the environment and the number of plastics collected per brand/manufacturer.

Coca-Cola was responsible for 11,732 pieces of plastic waste in 37 countries on 4 continents. The company was consistently in the top 3 in both regional and global categories. It was the top polluter in Africa and Europe and the second largest source in Asia and South America.

This dubious distinction directly contradicts the company’s efforts to portray itself as environmentally conscious. As reported by The Intercept, leaked audio showed how Coke-funded organisations undermine bottle bills while environmentalists in Europe have said that the company has been thwarting their efforts to combat plastic pollution.

According to Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement, ‘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.’