Explore the Urgent Push for an Inclusive Deposit Return Scheme and Corporate Responses to Plastic Pollution Challenges.

Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and PepsiCo Lead, Urgent Call for Accountability and Sustainable Practices

In the recent annual audit conducted by Surfers Against Sewage, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and PepsiCo emerged as the prominent contributors to packaging pollution in the UK. The examination involved more than 30,700 polluting items collected by 4,000 citizen scientists across various environments over a 12-month period until June 5, 2023. Shockingly, 12 companies were found responsible for over two-thirds (70%) of branded pollution during the year.

Coca-Cola, despite implementing initiatives to reduce plastic pollution, claimed the dubious title of the UK's biggest polluter for the fourth consecutive year, accounting for nearly a fifth (17%) of branded plastic pollution. McDonald’s followed closely, responsible for 11% of identified polluting items, surpassing PepsiCo in the rankings. Together, these three companies accounted for 37% of all branded pollution, showing a marginal decrease from the previous year.

Notable mentions among the top polluters include Tesco, Haribo, Nestlé, Heineken, Mars, Carlsberg, and Red Bull. Izzy Ross, a campaign manager at Surfers Against Sewage, expressed the results as "shocking but sadly not surprising," emphasizing the need for accountability.

The campaign group urges companies to take full responsibility for their product life cycles by adopting measures to reduce packaging and embracing circular business models. Furthermore, Surfers Against Sewage is advocating for the government to implement an "all-in" deposit return scheme (DRS) encompassing drinks of all sizes and materials. While the government has plans for a DRS in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, excluding glass and delayed until 2025, a similar scheme in Scotland has also been postponed to 2025.

Izzy Ross emphasized the success of DRS schemes in other countries and stressed their potential effectiveness in the UK. In response, major companies involved provided statements outlining their ongoing efforts to address plastic pollution. Coca-Cola highlighted recyclability and recycled content in its packaging, while McDonald's emphasized the recyclability of its packaging and encouraged responsible disposal. PepsiCo acknowledged the challenge of beach litter and reiterated its commitment to reducing plastic use, aiming to eliminate virgin fossil-based plastics in crisp and snack bags in Europe by 2030. The call for increased accountability and sustainable practices echoes a growing sentiment for a more environmentally responsible approach within the packaging industry.


Keywords

packaging pollution , annual audit , Surfers Against Sewage , Coca-Cola , McDonald’s , PepsiCo , branded pollution , plastic pollution , environmental impact , circular business models

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