Kaho‘olawe polluted with ‘staggering amount of plastics’ from corporations like Coca-Cola and Nestlé

by Perry Wheeler

October 25, 2018

© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace

Honolulu, HI – Earlier this week, Greenpeace worked with the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana and Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission to hold abeach cleanup and brand audit at Kaho‘olawe to help identify the corporations most responsible for single-use plastic pollution in the region. The Kao Corporation, Coca-Cola, and Nestlé were the top corporate plastic polluters found on the shores of the uninhabited island. Greenpeace alsofound Kao and Coca-Cola in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch earlier this month.

“The amount of plastic pollution washing up on the shores of an uninhabited place like Kaho‘olawe is absolutely staggering,” said Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Kate Melges. “It is a sacred place, free of commercial uses and set aside for Native Hawaiian purposes, yet corporations’ single-use plastic footprints are still found there. It shouldn’t be up to the people of Hawai‘i to clean up this mess.”

The audit also identified plastic pollution from Unilever, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Johnson & Johnson brands. Branded items collected included beverage containers, bottle caps, toothbrushes, soap and shampoo bottles, and household cleaning product packaging.

Much of the plastic found at Kaho‘olawe was in the form of tiny microplastics that could not be easily cleaned up. Greenpeace’s recent expedition to the Garbage Patch found eleven times more microplastics in the middle of the Pacific than near major U.S. cities. The cleanup also revealed a significant amount of discarded commercial fishing gear at Kaho‘olawe, including crates, buoys, fish traps, and nets.

Kaho‘olawe is an island reserve whose land and waters are protected for Native Hawaiian cultural, spiritual, and subsistence purposes. It is a sacred island that serves as the foundation for the revitalization of Hawaiian religious and cultural practices. All commercial uses are prohibited on the island, but corporations’ plastic packaging is reaching the shores nonetheless.

“Our sacred island of Kaho’olawe has been abused over the years in so many ways,” said Lopaka Aiwohi with the Protect Kaho’olawe Ohana. “The military bombing has stopped, but the island shores are constantly bombarded by ocean plastic pollution. The disastrous effects are taking a great toll on ocean marine life. We must all work together to protect our sacred places and the marine life on this planet we call home.”

Earlier this month, the Break Free From Plastic movement released the results of 239 cleanups and brand audits in 42 countries, finding Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé as the worst corporate plastic polluters. Greenpeace is demanding that the world’s largest corporations stop producing so much plastic, and innovate toward alternative delivery systems that won’t pollute our oceans and most sacred places.

Greenpeace is in Hawai‘i through the end of the month, calling attention to the global plastic pollution crisis.


For photos from the Kaho‘olawe cleanup and brand audit, please click here: https://media.greenpeace.org/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult_VPage&STID=27MZIFJWMSIKN


Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace Senior Communications Specialist, P: 301-675-8766

Ryan Schleeter, Greenpeace Communications Officer, P: 415-342-2386

(Ryan is currently in Hawai’i and can help with on the ground requests.)

Perry Wheeler

By Perry Wheeler

Perry Wheeler is a senior communications specialist at Greenpeace USA.

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