Plastic Waste : The top plastic polluters 2021

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© David Pereiras -

The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo are ranked as the world’s top plastic polluters for the 4th consecutive year according to Break Free From Plastic, whose latest global Brand Audit report also charges the same leading plastic polluters for fueling the climate crisis.

This year, Break Free From Plastic’s brand audit–an annual citizen action initiative that involves counting and documenting the brands on plastic waste found in communities–collected 330,493 pieces of plastic from 45 countries through 440 organized brand audits conducted by over 11,000 volunteers across the globe. They found nearly 20,000 Coca-Cola branded products, which represents more pollution than the next two top polluters combined—as has been the case each year since 2019. This suggests that Coca-Cola’s pledge to collect one bottle for every one sold is having little impact on the company’s plastic pollution.

PepsiCo also remains one of the top three plastic polluters for the third year in a row. Despite the company’s recent voluntary commitments to halve the use of virgin plastic by 2030, PepsiCo will need to make a more ambitious shift to reusable containers in order to move down the list, given the sheer volume of PepsiCo branded plastic pollution being collected around the world, the NGO declared in a statement.

For the first time since global brand audits began in 2018, Unilever has risen to become the #3 top polluter during the same year that the company is serving as a Principal Partner for the UN climate change summit COP26 in Glasgow.

These are the top ten this year:





Procter & Gamble

Mondeléz International

Philip Morris International




Recent studies have exposed that the top corporations behind the plastic pollution crisis are also contributing to the climate crisis, Break free from Plastic comments. Close to 300 organizations in 76 countries have signed an open letter to COP26 delegates demanding a shift away from fossil fuel extraction and plastic production, and an investment in zero waste alternatives.