It’s no longer a secret that the world’s oceans have unfortunately become quite the dumping ground for the world’s trash.  According to Greenpeace, the equivalent of an entire truckload of trash is dumped into the ocean every single minute. That’s why Greenpeace and a movement called Break Free From Plastic recently partnered up for an ambitious project that helped discover where all the plastic pollution is coming from. The project enlisted the help of 10,000 volunteers who cleaned up plastic in 24 countries and six continents around the world. Not only did the volunteers undertake a massive clean-up, but they took the time to identify the companies whose trash they came across the most along the way. Here we’ll take a look at some of the major companies who were identified as the worst pollution-producing offenders.

The top ten

Make no mistake, hundreds of companies from countries around the world managed to pollute their way to onto the list. For the sake of time, however, we’ll take a look at the top ten. Brace yourself, for among them you’re likely to find at least one company of which you’re a fan. In order of the most trash produced, the audit discovered that the worst pollution producers where:

1. Coca-Cola
2. PepsiCo
3. Nestlé
4. Danone
5. Mondelez International
6. Procter & Gamble
7. Unilever
8. Perfetti van Melle
9. Mars Incorporated
10. Colgate-Palmolive

As you can see, Coke, Pepsi, and Nestle were by far some of the worst producers of future floating plastic. The project reported that the three companies combined made up for 14% of the pollution that was found littered all over the world. Perhaps this should come as no surprise, considering how many plastic products they produce which are designed for single use. Coke-produced plastic trash alone was found in 40 of the 42 countries in which cleanups where orchestrated. It also ranked not only in the top ten but also in the top three worst offenders on all six continents.

What can you do?

So how do you get the attention of one of the biggest companies in the world? Well, Greenpeace came up with an idea that’s already getting traction on social media. The idea is that every time you come across a piece of trash on a shoreline, in a park, or floating around in the ocean where it doesn’t belong, you take a moment to snap a photo. Then, you post the photo it to social media with the hashtag #IsThisYours. The point behind the campaign is that although there are definitely things we can all do as individuals to help cut down on waste, it would definitely be helpful to get some of the world’s major trash producers in on the action.

“These brand audits offer undeniable proof of the role that corporations play in perpetuating the global plastic pollution crisis,” said Von Hernandez, global coordinator of Break Free From Plastic, in a recent press release. “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.”

As more attention has been drawn to the global issue of mass plastic trash production, slowly but surely more governments are making an effort to go green. Already bans on single-use plastics are taking effect and more people are participating in helping the shift towards a more eco-friendly environment. Here are some things you can do on a regular basis:

  • Recycle plastic and aluminum cans. Many states will even give you a refund if you take them to a participating recycling center.
  • Take your own bags to the grocery store rather than using the paper or plastic ones provided. States such as California are already encouraging the habit by making it mandatory for grocery stores to charge 10 cents per store bag used.
  • Buy a reusable straw. Though it may sound trivial, plastic straws produce a huge amount of waste and there are already washable, reusable straws on the market.
  • Purchase reusable glass and metal items instead of single-use, plastic bottles.
  • Investing in a great water filtration system and reusable water bottles. In the end, you’ll cut down on costs and waste all in one.
  • Volunteer to help in a clean-up with an organization like Greenpeace or Break Free From Plastic.

Companies begin to respond

The attention that the audit has drawn to some of the world’s major plastic producers has not gone unnoticed, even by the companies themselves. As the enormity of the plastic pollution problem begins to draw more attention, various companies are beginning to make more eco-friendly plans for the future. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Nestle have all made pledges to cut back on their packaging waste. Nestle’ has set a goal to ensure their packaging will be 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025, while Pepsi aims to make 100% of their packaging recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable by the same year.

Coca-Cola meanwhile has developed a plan to help collect and recycle the equivalent of 100% of their packaging products, a goal which they hope to reach by 2030. In addition to being involved in community recycling efforts, they’re also striving to use efficient energies during production and are exploring a variety of green packaging designs. Be sure to check out Break Free From Plastic to learn more about their organization and discover more ways that you can help be a part of the solution.