Break Free From Plastic Calls out Polluters at Our Ocean Conference

Photo: Top corporate plastic polluters Coca-Cola, Unilever, P&G, PepsiCo, The Dow Chemical Company, sat alongside Ocean Conservancy and Circulate Capital at our #OurOcean2018 in Bali.

Earlier this week, Break Free From Plastic member groups called out corporations for refusing to take responsibility for their role in creating and perpetuating the plastic pollution crisis.

At a side-event organized by Ocean Conservancy and Circulate Capital, companies exposed as the world’s Top Polluters by the recent #breakfreefromplastic brand audit report committed funds to a new “catalytic capital fund” to “solve” the plastic pollution crisis. Coca-Cola, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and PepsiCo — all in the top 10 of corporate brands found on plastic pollution worldwide — sat alongside Dow, one of the world’s largest producers of plastic, as self-identified “frontrunning” corporate leaders working to tackle plastic pollution through improved waste management and technology.

At the same time, the Sustainable Ocean Alliance produced a simultaneous tangential Our Ocean Youth conference where John  Kerry, PPC CEO Dianna Cohen, and SOA founder Daniela Fernandez spoke at the opening welcome event.

The global plastic binge which is already causing widespread damage to oceans, habitats, and food chains, is set to increase dramatically over the next 10 years after multibillion dollar investments in a new generation of plastics plants in the U.S.

Global #breakfreefromplastic Coordinator Von Hernandez said: “Plastic is pollution the minute it is made. The problem with plastic pollution is not one of waste management or ocean leakage; rather, the problem is that there is simply too much plastic being pushed upon us by industry than can be safely and properly dealt with. In any crisis, the most important action is how you address the source of the problem.”

Break Free From Plastic representatives said if these companies are serious about addressing plastic pollution, they must significantly decrease and ultimately eliminate single-use plastics, and that a start would be for these corporations to disclose publicly the amount of plastic each of them is pushing into local markets and waste management systems across the world and accept regulations instead of making weak, voluntary commitments. This ‘catalytic capital’ would be better invested in alternative delivery systems for products which don’t require single-use or plastic overpackaging. (See Leadership Challenge to Corporate Plastic Polluters of #breakfreefromplastic)

PPC co-founder and CEO Dianna Cohen said: "It's time to cut the greenwashing and bluewashing and hold corporations responsible for the single-use plastic products they create. Instead of making the same weak commitments, we call on Coca-Cola, Unilever, P&G, PepsiCo, The Dow Chemical Company, and others to reduce single-use plastic production. Only then will we have a healthy ocean and environment for all."

Experts on the ground in cities and communities have already innovated on zero waste solutions to improve local collection and waste prevention systems, and expose problematic products. Examples can be found around the world — in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, across Europe, the US — for a fraction of the cost. For example, one zero waste project in the Philippines averages at $2.30 per person per year.

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) has estimated that an initial influx of $30 million could provide zero waste programs for the entire Metro Manila area over two years. Corporations should be investing capital to support and replicate these solutions.

As the major contributors to the plastic pollution crisis, these companies should pursue true innovation in plastic reduction, instead of the same inadequate waste management approaches, said Break Free From Plastic.

At the close of the conference, Abigail Aguilar, of Greenpeace Philippines said: “It is urgent that corporations reduce their out of control production of plastic packaging. And the #breakfreefromplastic movement commits to holding them accountable until they do.”

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