By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
Greenpeace activists hold giant letters reading 'Stop Plastic' to protest against plastic waste at the Heroes Square in Budapest on September 30, 2018. // AFP PHOTO
Greenpeace and the Break Free From Plastic movement earlier on Wednesday disclosed the report from their brand audit of over 187,000 pieces of plastic trash collected from beaches in 42 countries around the world, including Thailand.
Plastic garbage from the major brands in the food and beverage, personal care, and household products sectors accounted for the large majority of the unsightly trash, much of which is also damaging to marine species.
The environmental campaigners invited the mega-corporates responsible for the mess to engage with their movement to end single-use plastics, and encouraged them to take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products.
More than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste have been generated since 1950, noted Tara Buakamsri, Thailand country director for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. The weight is equivalent to 47 million blue whales, the largest animal now on earth. However, only 9 per cent of the massive volume of garbage was properly dealt with, with the remainder polluting both land and sea environments.
Tara said the severe plastic pollution problem in the oceans has been found to affect more than 700 species of marine animals, with many of them, including rare species, strangled with the garbage or killed after plastic they ate obstructed their digestive systems.
“Active engagement of all stakeholders is required to tackle the big problems like plastic pollution in the sea,” he said.
“This mission is not only about the authorities and consumers having to change their practices to stop the flow of plastic waste to the oceans – business operators will have to play a key role in mitigating the problem as well.”
With the audit findings pointing to just a few major brands causing the majority of the plastic packaging pollution problem in Thailand and in other countries, those corporations are going to have to step forward, he said.
The global brand audit report by Break Free From Plastic revealed that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle were the top three brands creating the plastic waste collected from beaches all over the world. Some 14 per cent of the entire 187,851 plastic waste items were the products of these three companies.
Greenpeace in Thailand conducted a brand audit of plastic waste on a 350-metre stretch of Wonnapa Beach in Chon Buri during September 15-16 and found a total 2,781 items of plastic trash. The three major brands found on the beach were Dutch Mill Group (299 items), Coca-Cola (191) and CP Group (133).
“We have noticed that the effort to reduce plastic waste in Thailand is still mainly on a voluntary base from consumers, which is not enough to properly tackle the country’s severe plastic pollution in the sea,” Tara said.
“Therefore, we urge the producers of these products to join force with our mission to sustainably reduce plastic pollution in the sea by improving their products’ packaging to lower garbage generation, and to take responsibility over the entire lifecycle of their products.”
Greenpeace also asked the business sector to follow four good-practice policies – publicly disclosing their plastic footprint, creating strategies to refrain from single-use plastic, getting rid of single-use plastic waste as much as possible throughout their products’ lifecycle, and investing in better recycling and product distribution systems.
“It is up to us now what kind of environment we hand over to our next generations,” Tara added.