Brands ‘should be on the hook’ for their plas­tic waste

The Nation - - FRONT PAGE - PRATCH RUJIVANAROM

BUSI­NESSES are be­ing urged to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their plas­tic pack­ag­ing, after a ma­jor study found trash from ma­jor brands, in­clud­ing Coca-Cola, Pep­siCo and Nes­tle, had lit­tered beaches across the globe.

Green­peace and the Break Free From Plas­tic move­ment ear­lier on Wed­nes­day dis­closed the re­port from their brand au­dit of over 187,000 pieces of plas­tic trash col­lected from beaches in 42 coun­tries around the world, in­clud­ing Thai­land.

Plas­tic garbage from the ma­jor brands in the food and bev­er­age, per­sonal care, and house­hold prod­ucts sec­tors ac­counted for the large ma­jor­ity of the un­sightly trash, much of which is also da­m­ag­ing to marine species.

The en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paign­ers in­vited the mega-cor­po­rates re­spon­si­ble for the mess to en­gage with their move­ment to end sin­gle-use plas­tics, and en­cour­aged them to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the en­tire life­cy­cle of their prod­ucts.

More than 8.3 bil­lion tonnes of plas­tic waste have been gen­er­ated since 1950, noted Tara Buakam­sri, Thai­land coun­try direc­tor for Green­peace South­east Asia. The weight is equiv­a­lent to 47 mil­lion blue whales, the largest an­i­mal now on earth. How­ever, only 9 per cent of the mas­sive vol­ume of garbage was prop­erly dealt with, with the re­main­der pol­lut­ing both land and sea en­vi­ron­ments.

Tara said the se­vere plas­tic pol­lu­tion prob­lem in the oceans has been found to af­fect more than 700 species of marine an­i­mals, with many of them, in­clud­ing rare species, stran­gled with the garbage or killed after plas­tic they ate ob­structed their di­ges­tive sys­tems.

“Ac­tive en­gage­ment of all stake­hold­ers is re­quired to tackle the big prob­lems like plas­tic pol­lu­tion in the sea,” he said.

“This mis­sion is not only about the au­thor­i­ties and con­sumers hav­ing to change their prac­tices to stop the flow of plas­tic waste to the oceans – busi­ness op­er­a­tors will have to play a key role in mit­i­gat­ing the prob­lem as well.”

With the au­dit find­ings point­ing to just a few ma­jor brands caus­ing the ma­jor­ity of the plas­tic pack­ag­ing pol­lu­tion prob­lem in Thai­land and in other coun­tries, those cor­po­ra­tions are go­ing to have to step for­ward, he said.

The global brand au­dit re­port by Break Free From Plas­tic re­vealed that Coca-Cola, Pep­siCo and Nes­tle were the top three brands cre­at­ing the plas­tic waste col­lected from beaches all over the world. Some 14 per cent of the en­tire 187,851 plas­tic waste items were the prod­ucts of these three com­pa­nies.

Green­peace in Thai­land con­ducted a brand au­dit of plas­tic waste on a 350- me­tre stretch of Won­napa Beach in Chon Buri dur­ing Septem­ber 15-16 and found a to­tal 2,781 items of plas­tic trash. The three ma­jor brands found on the beach were Dutch Mill Group (299 items), Coca-Cola (191) and CP Group (133).

“We have no­ticed that the ef­fort to re­duce plas­tic waste in Thai­land is still mainly on a vol­un­tary base from con­sumers, which is not enough to prop­erly tackle the coun­try’s se­vere plas­tic pol­lu­tion in the sea,” Tara said.

“There­fore, we urge the pro­duc­ers of these prod­ucts to join force with our mis­sion to sus­tain­ably re­duce plas­tic pol­lu­tion in the sea by im­prov­ing their prod­ucts’ pack­ag­ing to lower garbage gen­er­a­tion, and to take re­spon­si­bil­ity over the en­tire life­cy­cle of their prod­ucts.”

Green­peace also asked the busi­ness sec­tor to fol­low four good-prac­tice poli­cies – pub­licly dis­clos­ing their plas­tic foot­print, cre­at­ing strate­gies to re­frain from sin­gle-use plas­tic, get­ting rid of sin­gle-use plas­tic waste as much as pos­si­ble through­out their prod­ucts’ life­cy­cle, and in­vest­ing in bet­ter re­cy­cling and prod­uct dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tems.

“It is up to us now what kind of en­vi­ron­ment we hand over to our next gen­er­a­tions,” Tara added.

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