Nestlé, Unilever, P&G among worst offenders for plastic pollution in Philippines in beach audit

Press release - September 28, 2017
Montreal, September 21, 2017 - Following a week-long beach clean up on Freedom Island, a critical wetland habitat and Ramsar site [1] spanning 30 hectares in Manila Bay - one of the worst areas for plastic pollution in the Philippines, Greenpeace has exposed the companies most responsible for plastic pollution after an audit of plastic waste was conducted.

Montreal, September 21,  2017 - Following a week-long beach clean up on Freedom Island, a critical wetland habitat and Ramsar site [1] spanning 30 hectares in Manila Bay - one of the worst areas for plastic pollution in the Philippines, Greenpeace has exposed the companies most responsible for plastic pollution after an audit of plastic waste was conducted.  

The Greenpeace Philippines audit, the first of its kind in the country, revealed that Nestlé, Unilever, Procter and Gamble, and Colgate Palmolive are among the top ten contributors of plastic waste discovered in the area, contributing to the 1.88 million metric tonnes of mismanaged plastic wastes in the Philippines per year[2]. These companies have various well-known brands sold in Canada that are also found in the Philippines such as Nescafe and Nestea, Dove and Knorr, Downy and Tide, and Colgate and Palmolive, respectively. In some cases these products are found in different packaging formats than products sold in the Philippines.

“When we throw something away, there is no ‘away’. The Philippines is the third biggest source of plastic ocean pollution because global corporations are locking us into cheap, disposable plastics, rather than innovating and finding solutions,” said Abigail Aguilar, Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines.

“These corporations are the missing piece in the global fight against plastic pollution. Citizens are burdened with the social and environmental impacts of plastic waste, rather than those that are responsible,” Aguilar added.

During the clean up, Greenpeace staff, volunteers and coalition partners from the #breakfreefromplastic Movement[3], found items ranging from styrofoam to footwear, along with single-use plastics such as bags, plastic bottles, and straws. A total of 53,588 pieces of plastic waste were collected during the audit, with most products being plastic sachets or packets.

Developing countries, such as the Philippines, run on a “sachet economy”, which encourages the practice of buying Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) in small quantities. This drives market and profit share for most companies by making it more accessible to people with limited incomes[4].  However, low-value single-use sachets are not collected by waste pickers and usually end up in landfills or scattered indiscriminately as litter in the streets or marine debris.

“While Manila Bay is ground zero for plastic pollution, the overuse of single-use plastic is a global problem and plastic is choking our oceans around the world, including in the North Pacific with evidence increasingly washing up on shores on Canada’s west coast,” said Sarah King, senior oceans strategist with Greenpeace Canada, on site in Manila. “Big global companies are pumping out plastic products at alarming rates, and it’s time that they rethink how and they deliver goods to their customers and extend their responsibility beyond point of sale.”

The Philippines ranks as the third worst polluter into the world’s oceans, with China as number one. In a study, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia are also in the list of top 10 countries[5] with mismanaged plastic waste. While their economies are growing, this new-found spending power has led to ‘exploding demand for consumer products that has not yet been met with a commensurate waste-management infrastructure[6].

ASEAN countries, due to their lengthy coastlines and high plastic usage, are some of the primary sources of marine plastics globally. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) estimates that the cost to the tourism, fishing and shipping industries was US$1.2 billion in the region alone.

Greenpeace conducted the plastic waste brand audit as part of the #breakfreefromplastic movement and its member organisations Mother Earth Foundation, Ecowaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, and Health Care without Harm.

Notes to the editors:

Detailed results of the audit can be accessed at www.plasticpolluters.org

Link to live stream of press conference: https://www.facebook.com/greenpeaceph/ (Thursday, 21 September 2017 10:00PM – 12:00AM ET/ 07:00PM – 10:00PM PT)

Photos and videos can be accessed here.

These are the companies that have been found most responsible for plastic pollution in Freedom Island:

  1. Nestle

  2. Unilever

  3. PT Torabika Mayora

  4. Universal Robina Corporation

  5. Procter & Gamble

  6. Monde Nissin

  7. Zesto

  8. Colgate Palmolive

  9. Nutri-Asia

  10. Liwayway

Canada is responsible for exporting approximately one third of diverted waste plastic to other countries [7], including China, the United States and the Philippines.

[1] Annotated list of wetlands of international importance. https://rsis.ramsar.org/sites/default/files/rsiswp_search/exports/Ramsar-Sites-annotated-summary-Philippines.pdf?1505801031

[2]http://www.plasticpolluters.org./about-brand-audit-and-methodology

https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/

[3] https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/

[4] Sachets help low income communities but are a waste nightmare. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/sachet-packaging-low-income-communities-waste-nightmare*The sachet economy refers to the practice, especially in poorer communities, of buying consumer products - such as detergent, shampoo, powdered milk, or beverages - in single-use packages. The products are packaged in small, disposable plastic packages called sachets.

[5] Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment. “Stemming the tide: Land-based strategies for a plastic-free environment.” http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability-and-resource-productivity/our-insights/saving-the-ocean-from-plastic-waste

[6] Jambeck, Jenna R., Roland Geyer, Chris Wilcox, Theodore R. Siegler, Miriam Perryman, Anthony Andrady, Ramani Narayan, and Kara Lavender Law. “Plastic Waste Inputs from Land into the Ocean.” http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/347/6223/768.full.pdf?ijkey=BXtBaPzbQgagE&keytype=ref&siteid=sci

[7] Canadian Plastics Industry Association, “2015 Post-Consumer Plastics Recycling in Canada”, March 2017.

Media contacts:

In Montreal:

Loujain Kurdi, Communications Officer, Canada

 |  (+1) 514.577.6657

In Manila:

Angelica Carballo Pago, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines

Email: , phone +63 949 8891332

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours),