City Trash Hunt and Brand Audit in South Korea © Soojung Do / Greenpeace

Greenpeace volunteers in South Korea found this Coke bottle as part of a cleanup and brand audit of the popular Hongdae neighborhood in Seoul.

The equivalent of one truckload of plastic enters the ocean every minute — but where is it all coming from? Up until recently, we weren’t sure. But to solve the plastic pollution crisis, we knew we needed to arm ourselves with the best information possible.

So, together with our partners in the Break Free From Plastic movement, we enlisted the help of 10,000 volunteers across 42 countries to embark on the world’s most ambitious plastic cleanup and brand audit project yet. Nine months, six continents, 239 cleanup events, and more than 187,000 pieces of trash later, we now have the most comprehensive snapshot to date of how corporations are contributing to the global plastic pollution problem.

They are, in order from most to least commonly found in global brand audits:

  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

And that’s just the top ten out of hundreds of multinational brands contributing to plastic pollution across the globe.

Now comes the important part: we have to hold these brands accountable for their plastic pollution.

Let’s talk about Coke. Coke-branded plastic was not only found in 40 of the 42 participating countries, it’s the only brand to rank in the top three on all six continents (just missing Antarctica, but unfortunately there’s plastic there, too). Just last week, the crew on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise even found an intact Coke bottle in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, hundreds of kilometres from any inhabited land.

As some of the largest companies in the world, Coke, PepsiCo, Nestle, and the others on this list have the chance to be part of the solution to the plastic crisis. Instead, they remain a part of the problem, selling us plastic drink containers and packaging we have no choice but to throw away.

Here’s how you can call out Coke and all the corporations polluting our oceans for profit.

We all have a role to play in tackling plastic pollution. But the reality is, individual consumers are already bearing the burden of this crisis. We’re swapping plastic bottles for reusable glass and metal, ditching disposable straws, avoiding unnecessary packaging in our grocery stores, and cleaning up our beaches as best we can. But there’s only so much we can do if companies don’t step up and provide more sustainable choices.

To solve this problem, we need to change the entire system — from how our products are made to what happens when we’re done with them. And we need corporations to be part of the solution.

Here’s what you can do. Whenever you see a piece of plastic where it doesn’t belong, pick it up, take a photo, and share it on social media using #IsThisYours. Don’t forget to tag the brand!

Together, we can be the generation that ends ocean plastic pollution. Don’t forget to read the full Break Free From Plastic global brand audit report for more information on the corporations contributing to ocean pollution — and what you can do about it.