2021 Global Brand Audit Named Unilever Third Worst Consumer Goods Brand for Plastic Pollution
MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 09:30 GMT
GLASGOW – On Wednesday, November 10 at 09:30 GMT, on the COP26 climate conference grounds, advocates from the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) movement and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) protested the involvement of Unilever as a Principal Partner of the UN summit, condemning the company’s role as a top plastic and climate polluter.
Unilever’s role in COP26 is particularly insulting given that 99% of plastic is made from fossil fuels. Brands like Unilever are enabling fossil fuel companies’ plans to shift their focus to plastic as the energy sector de-carbonizes, and consumer brands’ use of plastic packaging is standing in the way of a fossil-free future.
Last month, Break Free From Plastic unveiled its 2021 Global Brand Audit report, revealing the worst fast moving consumer goods brands contributing to the plastic pollution crisis. The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo were named top plastic polluters for the fourth year in a row, and Unilever has risen to third in the same year it is serving as a Principal Partner for COP26.
This year’s Brand Audit, which collected 330,493 pieces of plastic from 45 countries through 440 organized brand audits conducted by over 11,000 volunteers, shines a light on how the plastic industry is fueling the climate crisis – i.e. how big brands like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Unilever, are driving the fossil fuel industry’s expansion of plastic production.
Nikki Reisch of Center for International Environmental Law made the connection clear: ”Plastic is fossil fuels in another form, and plastic pollution is fueling the climate crisis. The only way to reduce emissions from plastic is to make less plastic.”
Shamyra Lavigne of RISE St. James, daughter of 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize-winner Sharon Lavigne, stated: “I’m from St. James Louisiana, also known as Cancer Alley, because it has 150 petrochemical industries on it dumping into the Mississippi River every day. We have had enough of plastic. We don’t need any more.” The city council has just signed off on yet another plastics plant from Taiwanese company Formosa Plastics, which would be the size of 14 football fields, built one mile from a school.
Betty Osei Bonsu from Green Africa Youth Organization, Ghana: “Corporate polluters will tell you that it is the fault of the public or consumers that you see illegal dumping on the road or in our oceans. The government will tell you it is the fault of the corporate polluters because they are not monitoring the end life of their products.
So who should we hold accountable for the plastic menace in our communities? We individuals have been asked to reduce our consumption. The only way to reduce carbon dioxide is to reduce PRODUCTION of plastics, because plastics are fossil fuels.”
Desmond Alugnoa from Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA): “They’ll tell you you can turn your plastics into fuel or into energy. They will never tell you that this will turn [plastic] into poisonous gases that will destroy the health of communities living around this plant. They will never tell you that this is a way for corporations to make billions, while getting you addicted to single-use plastic.”
Yuyun Ismawati from Nexus3 & AZWI, Indonesia: “We don’t have the capacity to recycle all plastic from developed countries. Until now only 9% of plastics produced globally in the last 50 years can be recycled. ONLY 9%. So if consumer goods companies are telling you that they have recycling programmes, or can chemically recycle, it’s not happening… we have seen a lot of false hope and false promises.”
PHOTOS available here.
Further resources on the plastic and climate connection can be found here.
If you are interested in learning more about the protest and/or Break Free From Plastic’s 2021 Global Brand Audit report, we’d be happy to set up an interview with BFFP Corporate Campaigns Coordinator Emma Priestland.
CONTACT: Bethany Spendlove Keeley | firstname.lastname@example.org | +49 17659 587841
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About BFFP – #breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in 2016, more than 2,000 organizations and 11,000 individual supporters from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. BFFP member organizations and individuals share the shared values of environmental protection and social justice and work together through a holistic approach to bring about systemic change. This means tackling plastic pollution across the whole plastics value chain—from extraction to disposal—focusing on prevention rather than cure and providing effective solutions.www.breakfreefromplastic.org.
About GAIA – GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. With our work we aim to catalyze a global shift towards environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped.