Nestlé’s plastic monster spews pollution at company’s U.S. headquarters

by Perry Wheeler

April 16, 2019

©Tim Aubry/Greenpeace

Washington, DC – Greenpeace activists joined a 15-foot tall monster in a visit to Nestlé’s U.S. headquarters in Arlington, VA today (link to be updated with photo and video), delivering Nestlé plastic pollution gathered from streets, rivers, and beaches across the country and demanding that Nestlé take responsibility for the over 1.5 million metric tons of single-use plastic it produces annually. The delivery was part of a global day of action against the company, which includes activities in Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Canada, and the Philippines.

“It’s time for Nestlé to end its reliance on single-use plastics and move toward systems of reuse,” said Greenpeace Plastics Campaigner Kate Melges, who helped return the plastics to the company. “Nestlé has created a monster by producing endless quantities of throwaway plastics that persist in our environment for lifetimes. It’s time for the company to own its mess and stop pushing false solutions that will never solve this crisis.”

At Nestlé’s U.S. headquarters, activists arrived at the building alongside the monster, and asked to speak with a company representative. The monster then repeatedly spewed Nestlé plastic pollution gathered from across the country. Activists left the building, leaving behind the plastic pollution for the company to take responsibility for.

Nestlé has started to acknowledge the impact of its throwaway plastics in recent months, but has failed to act with the urgency or ambition needed to address its role in the global plastic pollution crisis. Nestlé was named one of the worst three plastic polluters following 239 cleanups and brand audits in 42 countries last October. The company was also named the worst plastic polluter following 2017 and 2019waste and brand audits in the Philippines. Nestlé sells non-recyclable sachets throughout Southeast Asia that frequently end up polluting waterways and our oceans.

Earlier in the day, activists accompanied a 65-foot long and 20-foot high monster to Nestlé headquarters in Switzerland, demanding accountability for its global plastic pollution. The action in Switzerland followed a 7-week long Greenpeace ship tour from the Philippines to Unilever headquarters in the Netherlands, and then on to Nestlé. The tour has called attention to the impacts of companies like Unilever and Nestlé’s plastic pollution, particularly to communities in the Global South.

“The consequences of Nestlé’s heavy reliance on sachets and single-use plastic packaging, especially in the Global South, can no longer be denied,” said Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement. “It is unconscionable for a multibillion dollar company to be shifting the burden of what is essentially unmanageable waste to developing countries, and then argue that they are trying to help the poor. We never asked for this pollution, and we never wanted to see our oceans ravaged by throwaway plastic. We want Nestlé to be accountable and clean up its act by reducing its plastic footprint and investing in alternative delivery systems immediately.”

Last week, activists interrupted the company’s AGM by confronting executives with plastics found polluting the world’s oceans. Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan urged Nestlé executives and shareholders at the AGM to show true leadership to solve the plastic pollution crisis, stating:

“People can see with their own eyes the damage plastic pollution is doing to our oceans, waterways and communities. We’ve all witnessed the way plastic is contaminating our precious biodiversity and are only just beginning to understand how it is impacting us … It’s time for Nestlé to really take some responsibility for the magnitude of its contribution to the problem: it must be transparent and put forward a concrete action plan, with ambitious timelines, on how to reduce the production of throwaway packaging and invest in truly sustainable refill and reuse delivery systems.”

Additional information about Nestlé’s plastic pollution footprint can be found here: https://www.greenpeace.ch/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Nestle%CC%81-A-giant-plastic-problem.pdf

Photos from the action at Nestlé’s U.S. headquarters are available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/greenpeaceusa09/sets/72157708181133464

Additional photo and b-roll footage will be available here later today: https://www.media.greenpeace.org/shoot/27MZIFJWZW23G

Photo and video from actions on Nestlé around the globe are available here: https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJWG2RA3

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Contacts:

Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, +1 301 675 8766

For interviews on the ground in Virginia: Myriam Fallon, +1 708 546 9001

Perry Wheeler

By Perry Wheeler

Perry Wheeler is a senior communications specialist at Greenpeace USA.

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