Given the overload of controversies since the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) kicked off earlier this month, it would be safe to say that this year’s environmental summit, held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, has been struggling to live up to its high expectations. Always somehow managing to find itself stuck in a wind of bad promo and poor decision making, last week, the North African country was pointed at for its several human rights violations involving Egyptian-British blogger and activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah. Today, it is one of the global event’s main sponsors, Coca-Cola, that happens to be under the fire of critics, as the global beverage group has recently been labeled the worst plastic polluter for the fifth time in a row.
According to Break Free From Plastic (BFFF), an international organization aiming at the reduction of single-use plastics around the globe, Coca-Cola was found to be the planet’s top polluter this year, followed by PepsiCo, their prime competitors, and Swiss multinational food and drink conglomerate, Nestlé. To conduct this research, BFFF coordinated several global clean-ups in 87 countries to detect which company pollutes the greatest with the highest number of plastic waste.
Owing to the bleak results of the years-long operation, between 2018 and 2022, Coca-Cola items were allegedly found the most, with this year’s brand audits collecting over 30,000 Coca-Cola products, doubling alone the percentage found in 2018. It doesn’t end there, BFFF also noted that more Coca-Cola Company branded items were collected than the next two top polluters combined, making us wonder what the company is doing sponsoring one of the world’s most watched and followed environmental events.
“Instead of allowing companies like Coke to greenwash their image, governments need to compel polluters to invest in reuse and alternative product delivery systems that avoid the problem in the first place,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator at Break Free From Plastic. “This is one of the key systemic changes required for the world to avert the full consequences of climate change and plastic pollution. Governments worldwide now have the justification and opportunity to effectively address and reverse the plastic pollution crisis by coming up with a global plastics treaty that cuts plastic production, makes corporations accountable for the pollution they are causing, and mainstreams reuse-based alternatives,” he added.
As climate change issues are becoming increasingly visible and pressing, we can only wonder when the international community will start condoning, punishing, and cracking down on the handful of companies that are almost solely responsible for the world’s slow but sure demise. Not having the world’s top polluter as a major sponsor for the biggest climate summit is a good start.