MONTRÉAL – Today, Greenpeace Canada released its 2019 Top 5 Plastic Polluters list, with Nestlé and Tim Hortons ranked in the top two positions for the second year in a row. Starbucks made this year’s list ranked in 3rd place, followed by previous top polluters McDonald’s (4th) and The Coca-Cola Company (5th). 

“Canada’s top plastic polluters are once again the usual suspects. Polluters like Nestlé and Tim Hortons are continuing to shift responsibility on consumers, instead of fixing their own broken business models,” said Sarah King, Head of Greenpeace Canada’s Oceans and Plastics Campaign. “Companies’ responsibility doesn’t end at the point of sale. It’s time these polluters got honest with their customers about the scale of their plastics problem and made a real commitment to solve it through ditching disposables and embracing reuse,” added King. 

Of the 240 companies identified in this year’s audit of branded plastic pollution collected at the Canadian locations, 39 per cent belonged to the top 5 polluters. Nestlé accounted for about 12 per cent and Tim Hortons accounted for about 11 per cent of the branded plastic. While the ranking order varied from location to location, Tim Hortons placed first in six of the nine locations. House brand-labelled products by Canada’s major retailers such as Sobeys, Costco, Walmart and Loblaw were also found among the polluting items. 

The most commonly collected single-use plastic item categories were: (1) cigarette butts, (2) bottles and caps, (3) wrappers, (4) cups and lids, and (5) straws and stir sticks. Bags, cutlery and other forms of packaging also placed in the top 10. 

Plastics that are recyclable, contained recycled content or bio-based material were also collected during cleanups. Paper straws, compostable packaging and bio-plastic bags were found in the environment in non-biodegraded states. All companies ranked in the top 5 have noted recyclability, recycled content, use of bio-based or paper alternatives as alleged solutions to their plastic footprints. 

“Shoreline and community cleanups expose companies’ inaction and their failed attempt at green-washing,” added King. “We’ve collected everything from bioplastics to paper straws and recyclable lids and bottles, but it’s all still trashing our planet. Replacing single-use plastics with other single-use alternatives is a false solution that perpetuates our broken, disposal-centric business models. We cannot clean and bandaid our way out of this crisis, we need an urgent move away from disposables towards a reuse revolution.”

Earlier this month, Greenpeace USA released a report entitled, Throwing Away the Future: How Companies Still Have It Wrong on Plastic Pollution “Solutions”. The report warns consumers to be wary of so-called solutions announced by a growing number of multinational corporations, and challenges corporations to rethink product delivery and seek solutions based on the ability to reuse. 

Brand audits, which consist of separating the plastic pollution found by type and then the company responsible for producing it, were conducted at nine locations across Canada in collaboration between Greenpeace and groups including Surfrider Vancouver, Surfrider Pacific Rim, Surfrider Vancouver Island, Master Recycler Vancouver, Ecology Action Centre, Coop de solidarité Éconord, a small group of university students from France, and Greenpeace volunteer local group members. The cleanups and audits varied in size and scope, from rapid cleanups with one or two participants to multi-hour community events. Overall, more than 400 volunteers participated in collecting or auditing the trash found. 

Greenpeace Canada is calling for a nation-wide ban on the single-use plastics that are regularly found in the environment, known to be toxic, end up landfilled or burned despite recyclability claims, and that have existing alternatives. The organization is urging corporations and governments to invest in solutions focused on reuse. 

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Notes: 

Photos can be accessed here

Infographic

Media briefing available here

For more information, please contact: 

Marie-Christine Fiset, Head of Media, Greenpeace Canada

mfiset@greenpeace.org; +1 514 972-6316