Greenpeace smears companies for greenwashing to save profits
This comes as infamous environmental polluter Coca-Cola just signed a sponsorship deal with the climate conference, COP27, due to take place in December in Egypt.
According to a Greenpeace USA report called "Circular Claims Fall Flat Again," released on Monday, recycling efforts and output have been decreasing significantly, as industries and firms are "blasted" for faking efforts for an efficient and circular economy.
The report stated that just in 2021, out of 51 million tons of plastic waste produced by households in the US, only 2.4 million tons of them were recycled, amounting to approximately less than 5%, as opposed to the 10% after peaking in 2014. However, the trend has seen a decline especially after China stopped receiving plastic waste from the West in 2018.
Read more: US NGO retracts report that blamed Asian countries for plastic waste
"Industry groups and big corporations have been pushing for recycling as a solution," Greenpeace USA campaigner Lisa Ramsden told AFP, adding, "By doing that, they have shirked all responsibility" for ensuring that recycling actually works, after she identified Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever and Nestle as prime violators.
.@CocaCola: *commits to 25% reusable packaging by 2030*— Greenpeace USA (@greenpeaceusa) April 27, 2022
Also @CocaCola: *produces 13 billion more single-use plastic bottles in 2021 than previous year*
Talk about #GREENWASHING😵💫
Virgin production of unused plastic is on a rapid incline as the petrochemical industry expands - inducing cost efficiency.
According to a standardized system labeling seven plastic types, Greenpeace USA's survey identifies two plastics commonly accepted at the US' 375 material recovery facilities: polyethylene terephthalate (PET) labeled "1" used in water and soda bottles and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) labeled "2" used in milk jugs, shampoo bottles, and cleaning product containers.
But the term "actions speak louder than words" plays well here, as statements that products are recycled don't mean they actually are, since PET and HDPE products were both found to have had true reprocessing rates of 20.9% and 10.3% respectively down from Greenpeace USA's last survey conducted in 2020.
Plastics such as toys, bags, coffee cups, and yogurt tubs labeled "3" through "7", despite having the recycling symbol on their labels, were recycled at rates of less than 5% and failed to meet the Federal Trade Commission classification of "recyclable".
The report listed five reasons why plastic recycling is a "failed concept".
First, plastic waste is generated in large quantities and is extremely difficult to collect, as becomes clear during what the report called ineffective "volunteer cleanup stunts" funded by nonprofits such as "Keep America Beautiful."
Second, even if all are collected, mixed plastic cannot be recycled together as it would be "functionally impossible to sort the trillions of pieces of consumer plastic waste produced each year," per the report.
Third, workers are exposed to toxic chemicals, thus making the process environmentally harmful, while generating microplastics.
Fourth, recycled plastic produces toxicity risks by contaminating with other plastic forms while being collected which prohibits it from being labeled as food-grade material again. Fifth and finally, the cost is taken into consideration as the process is severely expensive.
"New plastic directly competes with recycled plastic, and it's far cheaper to produce and of higher quality," said the report, as Ramsden urged corporations and firms to support a Global Plastics Treaty to transit to 'refill and reuse' strategies, agreed to by United Nations members back in February.
"This isn't actually a new concept, it's how the milkman used to be, it's how Coca-Cola used to get its beverages to people. They would drink their beverage, give the glass bottle back, and it would be sanitized and reused," she said.
This year's UN climate conference, known as the COP27, struck a sponsorship with Coca-Cola, which has been labeled as the “world’s top polluter” by environmentalists. The event has been accused of 'greenwashing' by campaigners.
On a global scale, India, for example, recently prohibited 19 single-use plastic items, which according to an IPSOS poll released in February, 75% of people across 28 countries want to see banned once and for all.
Austria set targets of 25% of reuse by 2025 and at least 30% by 2030 for beverage packaging, and Portugal also jumped in on the 30% by 2030 goal. On the other hand, Chile is phasing out single-use cutlery and enforcing refillable bottles.