Seventy business operators, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have issued a joint statement urging the United Nations (UN) to create an ambitious treaty based on a circular economy approach to address plastic pollution. This is the first time industry leaders have advocated for such a robust policy on plastic pollution.
The call for action was timely launched, trying to create impact ahead of the UN’s Environment Assembly conference, taking place in Nairobi from 28 February, where member states will have a crucial opportunity to negotiate the treaty.
In their joint plea, signatories are recommending that the UN implements a legally binding treaty as well as improving downstream solutions for tackling plastic solutions, including recycling. This should apply to virgin plastic only. They also ask to set a clear direction to align governments, business and civil society behind a common understanding of the causes of plastic pollution and share approaches to address them.
This requires governments to align on regulatory measures that cover the whole life cycle of plastics, not limiting the scope of negotiations to address waste management challenges only.Coca-Cola and PepsiCo joint statement
The open letter emphasises the fact that the plastics pollution crisis is linked to the climate crisis and is harming ecosystems and biodiversity. The plea recalls the stories of marine animals trapped in plastics or dying after ingesting them, showing how the plastic pollution crisis is threatening the ocean’s ability to sequester carbon and produce oxygen.
Signatories of the open letter include Nivea owner Beiersdorf, Cushelle owner Essity, Schwarzkopf owner Henkel, Zara owner Inditex, Colgate-Palmolive, L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Starbucks, Mars, Mondelez International, H&M Group, Walmart; Zalando, Pick n Pay and Werner & Mertz. Many of them in the sectors dealing with fast-moving consumer goods and retail have plans to increase their use in recycled plastics.
Greatest plastic polluters
Last year, Greenpeace denounced Unilever’s sponsorship at the COP26, ranking world’s third worst plastic polluter, according to the 2021 Brand Audit conducted by the Break Free From Plastic. Topping the list of world’s plastic polluters were Coca-Cola and PepsiCo for the fourth year in a row.
“These companies claim to be addressing the plastic crisis, yet they continue to invest in false solutions while teaming up with oil companies to produce even more plastic. To stop this mess and combat climate change, multinationals like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Unilever must end their addiction to single-use plastic packaging and move away from fossil fuels,” said Abigail Aguilar, Plastics Campaign Regional Coordinator at Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Pressure has been mounting on the international community for a legally binding treaty — more than 2 million people around the world have signed a WWF petition, and more than three quarters of UN member states have also supported the civil society’s call for action.