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Polluting drink multinationals lobby against fixed caps

Amsterdam, 18 October 2018 – Soft drink caps are one of the most common items found on beaches. The caps are made of a plastic that floats, while PET plastic bottles sink. Last May, the European Commission proposed a new directive to reduce the plastic soup. The plans are in part based on the items that are most commonly found on beaches. It is therefore only to be expected that the European Commission wants to make it mandatory that caps be attached to bottles. After all, this has been successful with the pull tags of drink cans. The vote on the new directive is due next Wednesday. In the meantime, the lobby machine of the soft drinks companies are working hard to reverse this step. According to an investigationpublished earlier this month into the most commonly found brands, the top three polluters are Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé. These three companies, together with Danone, sent a lobby letter to the European Commission. In the leaked letter, as reported by De Standaard, they state that the intended measure will not lead to the desired result. Instead, they believe that a deposit or other collection system will enable at least 90% of all bottles, including caps, to be collected by 2025. In the meantime, should it appear in 2021 that this approach is not viable, fixed caps can still be made mandatory. The Independent also reported on the story.

“If this proposal is accepted we will start introducing the mentioned commitments immediately,” the four companies promise. This sounds like blackmail as article 9 of the European Union’s proposal is already to have a collection of 90% in 2025.

According to Recycling Netwerk, the soft drinks industry is refusing to take important action to reduce litter. Recycling Netwerk summarises the industry’s tactics, saying that the companies are trying to postpone new measures to sometime in the future to gain time in the hope that the next European Commission will no longer introduce the directive.

The multinationals emphasise that a deposit system would be effective in attaining the goals. This is ironic given that they are resisting introducing a deposit system in countries such as Belgium, France and Spain. The four multinationals further state that in the Netherlands and Germany in March next year, they will assess the percentage of caps collected through the deposit system. But what they forget is that in the Netherlands, the deposit is only levied on large bottles and not on the small bottles. This is why small bottles are found everywhere as litter. In a report, CE Delft believes that 50-100 million plastic bottles, including the caps, end up as litter.

Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation says that “The soft drinks industry’s lobby letter unintentionally shows how important it is to impose a deposit system on allplastic drinks bottles andto ensure that the caps are attached to the bottle. Its attempt to avoid the proposed mandatory cap system clearly shows that cost reduction is always much more important than looking after the environment.”

Also read:
Coca Cola largest plastic polluter
European Commission proposal to reduce single use plastic

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Coca-Cola Largest Plastic Polluter

Amsterdam, 10 October 2018 – Worldwide research into the origin of plastic waste has identified Coca-Cola as the worst plastic polluter. More details on the research, based on the 239 cleanups that took place in 42 countries this year, can be found in the report Branded. In search of the world’s top corporate plastic polluters, compiled by Break Free From Plastic (BFFP). And their press release is available here.

About 10,000 volunteers picked up and identified the brand of over 187,000 pieces of plastic trash. The three most frequently registered brands are Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé. And overall, polystyrene was the most common type of plastic found, followed closely by PET.

This report stresses the need for multinationals to take responsibility for the end stage of their products and not place the responsibility for plastic waste on the shoulders of consumers and (local) authorities. To avert the plastic soup crisis more products should be sold without plastic packaging or the packaging should be reusable.

Despite all their grand talk about the circular economy, multinational companies, producing food, beverages, cosmetics and cleaning products continue to offer their products in single-use plastic packaging. BFFP urges multinationals to drastically reduce their use of single-use plastics and really take their responsibility.

The top polluters in Asia are Western multinationals. These brands are, according to the report, responsible for 30% of the plastic pollution. In 2017, during a cleanup of a beach in Manila (Philippines) 54,260 pieces of plastic were collected and audited. This 2017 brand audit found Nestlé and Unilever to be the largest polluters.

Global Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic, Von Hernandez: “By continuing to churn out problematic and unrecyclable throwaway plastic packaging for their products, these companies are guilty of trashing the planet on a massive scale. It’s time they own up and stop shifting the blame to citizens for their wasteful and polluting products.”

Also read: Unilever largest polluter in the Philippines


Tens of thousands of pieces of litter cleared up in the Netherlands on World Cleanup Day

Amsterdam, 16 September 2018 – Thousands of participants registered and cleaned up more than 35,000 pieces of litter in The Netherlands on World Cleanup Day. Everything that was found – each individual bottle, can, cigarette pack and plastic bag – was registered in an app on the participant’s phones. As not all participants used the app continually, the final total was probably considerably higher.

A little more than 60% of all litter registered was plastic, followed by paper and metal (including aluminium). The cigarette butt topped the list of “Top 5” items – cigarette filters are made of plastic – followed by cans in second place, and packaging in third place. Bottles came in fourth, and (plastic) cups fifth.

World Cleanup Day was not just another action to help clean up the world. Participants used the Litterati-app to register the litter they found: be it in their own street, their neighbourhood, a nearby park or along the banks of a river. The data gathered will be used to help understand the true nature of the litter problem and as a basis for the development of structural solutions.

“It’s fantastic to see that so many people took part in World Cleanup Day, together we really make a difference”, said Jeroen Dagevos, head of Programmes for the Plastic Sup Foundation. “Collecting this level of data concerning the types of rubbish found and where it is found enables us to make a serious attempt at putting an end to the plastic soup. It’s good to see that the manufacturers are beginning to internalise the discussion concerning the origins of litter. An event like the World Cleanup Day helps them to see how they, themselves, are part of the problem. And that really helps.”

The Litteratti-app on a mobile phone automatically adds the location to each photo made of a piece of litter. Pre-set keywords help to tag each item. In this way it’s possible to not only see which items are found the most frequently, but also the material from which the item is made and the brand or retail chain who manufactured or sold the item. In this way, the nature of the litter problem becomes apparent on a map: the locations where litter is frequently found can be traced right down to individual street level.  This can help in the development of structured planes to improve the situation around, for example, schools, stations, parking areas, sport clubs, supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, parks and tourist attractions.

In the past, local authority sanitation departments have often been fighting a loosing battle. Litter that is not cleaned up, or cleaned up in time, stands a good chance of ending up in a ditch, canal or river – and ultimately in the sea. Research has shown that 80% of the plastic soup in the sea originated on land. The app has now been up and running for a year, with almost 2 million items of litter registered worldwide: the most input has come from the US, followed by The Netherlands. On World Cleanup Day, tens of thousands of red dots were added to the map of The Netherlands….

On that day, more than 300 clean-up actions were organised by groups, companies and organisations around the country. Thousands of people took part. The action was coordinated in The Netherlands by The Plastic Soup Foundation and Nudge. The worldwide action ran on a Saturday around the world from New Zealand to Hawaii. It’s estimated that several million volunteers took part in more than 160 countries around the globe, making this the largest clean-up action ever to be organised.

The day started officially in The Netherlands when Merlijn Tinga, alias the Plastic Soup Surfer, surfed in to the yacht harbour in Scheveningen on the world’s first 3D-printed hydrofoil windsurf board made entirely of re-cycled PET plastic bottles. Scheveningen was the end destination for Merlijn after an eight-day sea journey on the board, which started at the mouth of the Seine close to Le Havre, and was undertaken to raise awareness of World Cleanup Day and for the problem of plastic pollution.

The Plastic Soup Surfer was welcomed on the beach at Scheveningen by Berend Potjer, member of the provincial parliament for the province of South Holland and representative of the “Green Left” political party. They together retrieved a washed- up or abandoned plastic bottle from the beach and registered it in the app. A few minutes later, the item became visible on a large screen via the app from Litterati. The litter had become data.

Foto: ANP

In the World Cleanup Day NL press centre, located in Roompot Holiday Park Kijkduin, a panel discussion was held on the subject of litter and the possible solutions. Participants were Suzanne Kröger (member of parliament for “Green Left”), Rob Buurman (Managing Director Recycling Network Benelux), Jaap Dinkelman (Policy Officer “Clean City The Hague”) and Jeroen Dagevos (Plastic Soup Foundation). Kröger and Buurman were of the opinion that the results of the day highlighted the importance of introducing a deposit system for some kinds of packaging.

“It’s a persistent problem, a deposit system is a practical and necessary initial step”, according to the MP. “After that, we can begin to address the problem of other forms of packaging, sweet and snack packaging and other litter. It’s an irritating and unnecessary problem: let’s solve it”, added Kröger.

Dutch companies and organisations that took part as partners in World Cleanup Day were: ABN Amro, IVN Natuureducatie, JCI Nederland, Middle Point, Spa Nederland, Stichting De Nordzee, Heineken, Coca-Cola, Aqua Minerals, Ekoplaza, Roompot Vakanties, NEMO Science Museum, Greenchoice, Dimsum Reizen, Grant Thornton, Tony’s Chocolonely, JCDecaux, Nederland Schoon, Moonen Packaging, the Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier, Gemeente Den Haag, Oerlemans Plastics, EcoChain Technologies, Waterschap AGV/Waternet, Waterschap De Dommel, Royal Lemkes, Omrin, SodaStream, Lipton, Deliveroo, Bever, Center Parcs, Vrumona, Cisco and a.s.r.

PSF Ambassadors

A number of Plastic Soup Foundation Ambassadors also helped with the clean-up actions: singer-songwriter Roos Blufpand in the Transwijk park in her home town Utrecht, bag designer Omar Munie from his shop on the Noordeinde in The Hague, and 3FM-dj Sander Hoogendoorn, also in Utrecht.

More information

More about the World Cleanup Day can be found on our website www.worldcleanupday.nl

More about the Litterati-app can be found at https://litterati.org/

Messages in social media can be found at #WorldCleanupDayNL

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Citizen Science: Motivated cleaning up of litter

Amsterdam, 23 August 2018– The banks of the Meuse and Waal rivers will be kept clean by volunteers for five years. This is part of a large-scale project researching litter set up in 2017 by the Plastic Soup Foundation in collaboration with IVN Natuureducatie and the North Sea Foundation (Stichting de Noordzee). Clean Rivers is a citizen science project in which citizens actively take part in scientific research. The litter is not only cleared up but analysed as well. The purpose is to gain an insight into the amount, types of products, composition and origins of the rubbish. This data will help implement a more effective strategy to tackle the problem of waste, including addressing the producers of the retrieved products and holding them responsible.

The “Citizen Science voor Schone Rivieren” (citizen science for clean rivers) report by the University of Leiden shows that citizen scientists are mostly concerned about the amount of litter and also want to contribute to solving the plastic soup problem by tackling pollution at source. The Leiden research aimed to find out what motivated the volunteers to join the project.

Local clubs also organise clean ups, but they sometimes do so because of a financial incentive from their municipalities. For them, the most important motivation is to boost the finances of their clubs. They are far less interested in tackling the plastic soup problem at source.

In a few weeks’ time, everyone in the Netherlands will have the opportunity to clean up litter while contributing to scientific research. It is World Cleanup Day on Saturday 15 September and there will be clean-up activities organised in more than 150 countries. Everyone that joins in helps map litter on the user-friendly Litterati app on their smartphones. The Plastic Soup Foundation and Nudge will organise the clean-up activities in the Netherlands. Individuals may start a local clean up activity and sign up here.

No more plastic waste to the ocean via Dutch rivers.