Big Brands Have Failed to Meet Sustainability Targets, Report Says
The world is trying to curb the usage of plastic and it seems a near-to-impossible target given humankind’s dependency on it. A recent report has discovered that major brands have failed to meet many of their internal sustainability targets. The report analyzed internal commitments from the 10 biggest plastic polluters: Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Mars Incorporated, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Perfetti Van Melle, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever.
The report by the Changing Markets Foundation found that Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Mars have been unsuccessful in reducing their plastic waste. Coca-Cola had pledged in 1990 to make its bottles from 25 percent recycled plastic – but even after 30 years later, the target is nowhere completion.
The report said that Mars promised to make 30 percent of its plastic packaging from recycled material by 2025 through unproven chemical recycling, which has drastic climate consequences. According to the report, PepsiCo also plans to make 50% of its plastic packaging from recycled materials in the EU by 2030 but has set a global target of only 25% by 2025.
Coca-Cola is the world’s largest contributor to plastic pollution, generating 2.9 million metric tons of plastic packaging every year. The report states that the company has failed to fulfil its internal sustainability goals and has opposed new environmental laws.
The Changing Markets Foundation, which campaigns for sustainability within organizations, has found that some companies including food manufacturer Mars Incorporated depend mostly on unproven chemical recycling, which changes the chemical structure of used plastic so it replicates the properties of unused plastic. This fast-growing alternative to traditional recycling is not a reliable solution and it can further harm the environment.
In 2019, Mars pledged to make 30 percent of its plastic packaging from recycled plastic, but presently, its packaging contains zero recycled content. The company also aims to make all of its plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, of which only 19 percent has been achieved. The current pace of the company suggests that it may not be able to meet its set target.
The Foundation studied the sustainability policies of these brands to determine how eco-friendly they are. For instance, Coca-Cola promised to stop using plastic straws by 2025, and Mars by 2020, but both seem to just be replacing these with other single-use materials such as paper.
The report found changing levels of commitment between the companies, but overall, they had profoundly made known a few small token projects to depict an impression of sustainability.
It reasoned that “regardless of how ambitious voluntary commitments sound, most companies regard them as just paper promises, easily warped, reframed, or ignored while conveniently generating favorable headlines.”
According to the report, companies do not usually establish their sustainability policies worldwide. Coca-Cola petitioned widely against plans for a Scottish bottle deposit return scheme — where customers pay a small deposit on plastic bottles and are paid back when the bottles are returned — before changing its attitude after heavy press criticism.
The failure of these major brands to meet their sustainability goals is a clear impression of how much humankind relies on plastic. Nevertheless, if these targets are not met anytime soon, this non-biodegradable substance could ruin the planet for any life form to thrive and survive.