Corporations have created a plastic monster that keeps growing. While the problem might seem unstoppable, thanks to you and over three million people around the world, we are edging closer to stopping it.

Activists March at Nestle HQ in the Philippines. © Basilio H. Sepe / Greenpeace

Environmental activists display placards as they troop to Nestle’s Philippine headquarters in Makati City demanding accountability for its role in abetting the country’s plastic pollution crisis. Nestle was named one of the worst plastic polluters after cleanups and brand audits of plastic waste around the world in 2018.

Earlier this year, we set out on a journey with 1,400 allies from the Break Free From Plastic movement to tell the global story of where plastic pollution really starts and ends. Together we joined forces to stop this crisis at the source and demand action from those responsible – corporations like Nestlé and Unilever.

We deployed the Greenpeace ships – the Rainbow Warrior and Beluga – called on supporters around the world, and shipped the plastic pollution monsters from the communities it menaces in Southeast Asia and back to the corporate headquarters of its creators in Europe.

Throughout our journey, we documented the devastating impact plastic pollution is having on some of the most beautiful natural places on earth, the disproportionate burden that communities in Southeast Asia bear and the growing movement of people standing up to say “we have had enough”.

In the Netherlands in March, we danced our way through the streets of Rotterdam to return a raging plastic monster created by Unilever to its headquarters with over 300 supporters and allies. In front of their office, we told Unilever’s staff that we do not want their plastic anymore and we demanded concrete plans and action to stop making so much plastic.

Onboard the Beluga, we continued our journey with the monster up the Rhine, worked with communities along the way to raise awareness, and envisioned what a plastic-free future might look like at a festival attended by over 2000 people. We held concerts, hosted international influencers and worked together with scientists to take samples of microplastics polluting the river.

In April, the Beluga finally reached Switzerland, our final destination, where we confronted Nestlé leadership and investors at the company’s annual general shareholder meeting. Our International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan delivered a speech alongside Froilan Grate, the Executive Director of GAIA in the Philippines, to tell Nestlé directly that while the company claims to care about the plastic pollution crisis, they are not doing nearly enough to tackle it.

Then in late April, we showed up at Nestlé’s headquarters together with over 60 activists to deliver a massive 20 meter long plastic monster covered in Nestlé’s plastic pollution. We dropped a massive banner on the front of the building calling on the corporation to stop greenwashing and backup their words with action. We want Nestlé to demonstrate true leadership, make less plastic and invest in reuse and refill models.

But this wasn’t the end. Greenpeace activists in the Philippines, Kenya, Cameroon, Italy, Slovenia, Poland, Malaysia, Mexico, the USA and Canada also took part in this Global Week of Action, and showed up at Nestlé offices around the world. Some delivered plastic monsters, others letters to the CEO, and thousands of supporters called the company – all with the purpose of holding Nestle responsible for its role in the plastic pollution crisis, and demanding meaningful action. This was all possible because of supporters like YOU!

Instead of shifting responsibility for their corporate plastic pollution on consumers, Nestlé is finally starting to acknowledge that recycling alone won’t solve this global crisis.

In response to this public pressure, the company have stated “We are determined to reduce our use of single-use plastics. We are introducing reusable packaging, new delivery systems and innovative business models.“

Plastic Monster Action at Nestle' Headquarters in Mexico. © Alejandro Pai / Greenpeace

Greenpeace activists in front of Nestle’s headquarters in Mexico City. The activity is part of a global week of action calling on the corporation to end its reliance on single-use plastic.

While it is refreshing to hear them finally admit publicly what is obvious to us – that to stop the plastic pollution crisis, Nestlé needs to make less plastic and reject the throwaway culture that they perpetuate – now they need to back up their words with actions.

The time to do it is now. Join us in calling on Nestlé to be transparent about all of their plastic use, set ambitious reuse and refill targets across its global business as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce its plastic use every year going forward.

This fight is just the beginning. We need to keep up the pressure on Nestlé and big multinationals like it to finally see an end to the plastic pollution crisis which affects us all. Will you join us and ask corporations to slay the plastic monster?

Graham Forbes is the Global Project Lead for the Plastic-Free-Future Campaign for Greenpeace USA

Plastic Waste in Verde Island, Philippines. © Noel Guevara / Greenpeace
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