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Coca-Cola Crowned King of Plastic Pollution Once More

Discarded Coca-Cola plastic bottle partially buried in sand at the beach, symbolizing environmental pollution.

The 2023 Global Brand Audit conducted by the Break Free From Plastic Movement has exposed The Coca-Cola Company as the leading global plastic polluter, with its products identified as the most prevalent in pollution across the highest number of countries.

Insights from the 2023 Global Brand Audit

In a groundbreaking development, the #BreakFreeFromPlastic (BFFP) movement, dedicated to eliminating plastic pollution, revealed the findings of its 2023 Global Brand Audit. This year marked a notable shift as, for the first time, the volume of plastic waste branded with PepsiCo’s logo surpassed that of Coca-Cola‘s, despite being present in fewer countries.

The annual audit, now in its sixth year, is a collaborative effort by communities worldwide. It involves the collection, counting, and analysis of branded plastic litter to pinpoint the corporations contributing most significantly to plastic pollution. This initiative follows a methodology collaboratively designed by members of the BFFP network.

This year’s audit engaged 8,804 volunteers across 41 countries, who conducted 250 brand audits. These global volunteers managed to collect and review 537,719 pieces of plastic trash, identifying 6,858 different brands from 3,810 parent companies through the efforts of 97 participating civil society organizations.

Exposing Leading Plastic Polluters

The latest report from the 2023 Global Brand Audit, led by the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement, presents revealing insights into the world’s leading contributors to plastic pollution. The audit names The Coca-Cola Company as the foremost global plastic polluter for the sixth year in a row, with an unprecedented count of 33,820 pieces of plastic waste. Despite PepsiCo’s branded plastic waste surpassing Coca-Cola’s in quantity, it was present in fewer countries, securing Coca-Cola’s top position based on the audit’s country-based methodology.

Significantly, the audit also highlights increased legal actions against top polluters such as Danone, Coca-Cola, and Nestlé in Europe, showcasing the pivotal role of brand audit data in fueling legal challenges and holding corporations accountable.

In response to these findings, the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement urges major consumer goods companies to disclose their plastic usage, cease endorsing ineffective solutions like burning plastic or chemical recycling, and shift away from single-use packaging. The call to action includes a push for investment in sustainable alternatives like reusable, refillable, or package-free delivery methods, emphasizing the importance of a just transition for workers impacted by these changes.

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