Study links global brands with more than half of branded plastic pollution

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New Delhi: International brands, including The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, have been linked to more than half of the branded plastic pollution in a new research.

Analysing data from 84 countries, researchers identified that single-use plastic products of food and beverage companies are found as “plastic waste in the environment.”

They found that the top five brands were The Coca-Cola Company (linked to 11 per cent of branded plastic waste), followed by PepsiCo (5 per cent), Nestlé (3 per cent), Danone (3 per cent), and Altria (2 per cent). In all, 56 companies were identified.

The team of researchers, including those from The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia, said that single-use packaging contributes significantly to branded plastic pollution.

The study is the first ever to quantify products from global plastic producers in the environment through audit events, the researchers said. The findings reveal what plastic products end up in the environment, they said.

“We found 13 companies have an individual contribution of one per cent or more of the total branded plastic observed in all 1,576 audit events,” said Kathy Willis, postdoctoral researcher at CSIRO, and co-author of the study published in the journal ‘Science Advances’.

“All those companies produce food, beverage, or tobacco products,” said Willis.

The researchers showed that a one per cent increase in plastic production was associated with a one per cent increase in plastic pollution, suggesting that reducing plastic production could curb plastic pollution globally.

“This would have a positive impact on the environment, as would shifting towards more durable and reusable products,” said lead researcher Win Cowger, research director at The Moore Institute for Plastic Pollution Research, US.

Regarding solutions to address single-use plastics, Willis said they included “safe and sustainable product designs that cut global demand for new products, and increasing reusability, repairability and recyclability.”

On the aspect of unbranded plastic pollution, the researchers said that improving the branding and labelling of products could enhance traceability and accountability.

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