The Brand Audit Report 2018-2022

Manila — The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Nestlé come in as the world’s top plastic polluters for five years running, according to Break Free From Plastic’s latest global brand audit report. The 2022 Brand Audit analyzes five years’ worth of citizen science trash-collection data, exposing how corporate voluntary commitments are not effectively reducing these companies’ devastating environmental impacts. In response, activists around the world are calling for a Global Plastics Treaty that can provide legally-binding mechanisms and enforcement policies to effectively reduce the amount of plastic both produced and used by corporations.  

Since 2018, global cleanups have been carried out by more than 200,000 volunteers in 87 countries and territories to identify the companies polluting the most places with the most plastic waste. Over all five years, more Coca-Cola Company branded items were collected than the next two top polluters combined. This year’s brand audits found more than 31,000 Coca-Cola branded products, doubling the proportion of Coca-Cola products found in 2018. These findings are revealed as the top polluter is serving as a sponsor of the UN climate change conference COP27 in Egypt. Given that 99% of plastic is made from fossil fuels, Coca-Cola’s role in COP27 baffles environmental activists.

Today, in response to corporate inaction, activists worldwide are commemorating a 5-year “Trashiversary” for these companies by mailing or delivering their own waste to them to demand urgent action. The actions are taking place today, targeting Coca-Cola in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, the US, and Zambia; Unilever in Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and South Africa; and PepsiCo in India and Tanzania.

In 2018, the same year that Brand Audits efforts started, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme together launched the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. This program centered on a set of voluntary commitments to address plastic pollution made by major fast-moving consumer goods companies, including most of the top plastic polluters. However, the Global Commitment 2022 Progress Report revealed that their 2025 targets will “almost certainly” not be met. For many of these companies, the use of plastic packaging has actually increased since joining the Global Commitment, exposing how voluntary actions are not leading to any kind of significant impact on plastic reduction. 

Stanford pediatrician and arbovirologist Desiree LaBeaud and her colleagues created a community-led mosquito research project in Kenya, where mosquito-borne diseases are common. They found that plastic pollution, including containers and bottles, can serve as major breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes. In an effort to reduce disease, LaBeaud and colleagues have launched a nonprofit to clean up plastic pollution to prevent continued spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

Gyre: Creating Art From a Plastic Ocean – 20:14 min.
Grades 7 and up. National Geographic program shows an artists’ expedition to Alaska with the goal to make art from the trash found on the beaches. 

Midway Journey – Bottle Caps – 4:18 min.
Grades 4 and up. Examining the carcass of a Laysan albatross, and the plastic contents of its stomach, with the Deputy Wildlife Manager of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. 

Midway Journey – Plastic Beach – 2:25 min.
The seemingly endless deposition of plastic debris onto a single beach on Midway Island. All ages, however this does not present any solutions, just the problem. 

Ocean Heroes: The Plastics Problem – – 2:17 min.
Grades 9 and up. One World One Ocean interview with Anna Cummins and Marcus Erickson of 5 Gyres Institute
about plastic pollution in the ocean.

Our Debris Filling the Sea – 2:36 min.
Grades 4 and up. NOAA presents the marine debris problem. 

Saving Inky – 20:25 min.
A video for all ages about a pygmy sperm whale that ingested plastics from the ocean, was treated at the Baltimore
Aquarium and then set free. 1994. Request VHS or DVD from Order Form.

Synthetic Sea: Plastics in the Ocean – 9:00 min.
Grades 7 and up. An alarming look at the role plastics is playing in our waters, specifically the Pacific Ocean from
Algalita.  Request VHS, DVD, or Spanish DVD from Order Form.

Trash in the Deep Sea: Bringing a Hidden Problem to Light – 4:12 min.
Grades 4 and up. Describes Monterey Bay Aquarium
Research Institute’s research into debris in the deep ocean. Watch online.

The Trash Troll – 12:30 min.
Grades K-5. Teaches children the impacts of beach trash on marine animals. 1993. Request VHS or DVD from Order Form.

Troubled Waters: Plastic in the Marine Environment – 28:30 min.
Grades 7 and up. This 1992 video from the Center for Marine Conservation (now The Ocean Conservancy) addresses
marine debris issues with a focus on ocean-based sources. 1992. Request VHS or DVD from Order Form.

The Adopt-A-Beach® School Assembly Program – 21:00 min
Grades 3 and up. The Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education produced this DVD, which includes excerpts from
a live assembly program for students about the sources and impacts of marine debris. 2009. This item will
be yours to keep; it does not need to be returned.
Request DVD from Order Form.

Videos on plastics from Plastics at SEA: North Pacific Expedition 2012 include:

More than eight million tonnes of plastic is thrown away each year and washed out to sea.  It takes centuries to break down. It’s eaten by marine creatures. And it’s in our food chain. Your seafood supper may have a synthetic garnish. Scientists just don’t know what effects it has on our health.

Sky Ocean Rescue is doing something about it. Watch their documentary, A Plastic Tide!

In this TED Talk, Melati and Isabel Wijsen explain that they are on a mission to stop plastic bags from suffocating their beautiful island home of Bali. Their efforts — including petitions, beach cleanups, even a hunger strike — paid off when they convinced their governor to commit to a plastic bag-free Bali by 2018. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re too young or you won’t understand,” Isabel says to other aspiring activists. “We’re not telling you it’s going to be easy. We’re telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

Boyan Slat combines environmentalism, entrepreneurism, and technology to tackle global issues of sustainability in his TEDX Delft talk. After diving in Greece and coming across more plastic bags than fish, he wondered; “Why can’t we clean this up?” He differed college to pursue his ideas, and is now the CEO of The Ocean Cleanup.