New initiative multinationals is blatant greenwashing

Amsterdam, 14 June 2019 – The last few years, multinational companies goals have formulated goals how to deal with the plastic pollution, while they themselves caused it with their single-use packaging. The plastic production will increase with 40% over the next ten years and these companies want to fully exploit that growth. No initiative to reduce the plastic soup should therefore stand in the way of the growth of plastic use. Whether it’s McDonald’s, Procter Gamble, Nestlé, Unilever or Coca-Cola, they all come up with false solutions. These are measures which, on the one hand, suggest that the plastic soup is being addressed, but, on the other hand, do nothing at all to slow down growth. The most recent initiative of these parties was launched last week.

Danone, Veolia, Nestlé and Tatra Pak’s 3R initiative

At the Responsible Business Summit in London it was announced that food and beverage multinationals will cooperate in the 3R Initiative to curb the rapidly increasing plastic pollution. This will be done by promoting recycling plus the introduction of a new credit system. Participating companies will be able to use the 3R Crediting Mechanism to buy credits in projects aimed at cleaning up and recycling. In particular African, Southeast Asian and South American projects can be financed in this way. There are twelve of such projects. The sale of “plastic waste recovery credits” can provide waste pickers with more income. Read more about the initiative.

What do the multinationals fail to do?

In 2018, the Brand Audit Report concludes that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé  are the top three of companies that contribute to the plastic soup with their packaging. The companies selling the most, are precisely the same companies of which most litter is found. This is the case in the countries where waste is not collected and recycled and where waste pickers earn nothing because waste has no value. It is an illusion that the proposed measures offer relief. As to be expected, measures that really make a difference are lacking entirely in the 3R Initiative:

  • Embrace annual reduction targets of packaging plastics to eventually banish these entirely;
  • Be fully transparent about the total annual production of plastics used per brand and not just per item;
  • Start eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastics, such as the mini packs, immediately;
  • Invest in reusable packaging and ensure that adequate logistic processes are used.

Maria Westerbos, managing director from the Plastic Soup Foundation: “This initiative is aimed at not taking the measures that need to be taken. It is an example of blatant greenwashing that will lead to many more plastic packaged products being sold worldwide in years to come, instead of less. At the same time there is not a single guarantee that less plastic will end up in the oceans.”


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Greenpeace torpedoes plans of multinationals to curb plastic soup