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Surfrider Foundation

Climate love

Exposing avoidance strategies of some manufacturers that worsen plastic pollution

In a report published on July 4th, the environmental NGO Surfrider denounces the five main avoidance strategies used by manufacturers to delay the reduction in the use of plastic. It particularly singles out Nestlé, Unilever, TotalEnergies, Coca-Cola and Adidas.
First strategy pinpointed “It is not up to us, but to citizens to reduce plastic pollution”; the companies clearly attempt to discard their responsability by emphasizing the role of citizens and local authorities in managing the plastic crisis, minimizing their own role and their duty to reduce.
Nestlé is thus criticized for having integrated consumers and local authorities into two of the five pillars of its "sustainable strategy on packaging", allowing it to claim to have reduced the weight of its packaging by 4.5 to 3.6 million tonnes between 2020 and 2022.
Investing in the wrong direction: Research & development and investments are keys of a company's strategy, but today, most investments by companies in the plastics sector focus on technologies that knowingly fail to solve the crisis on their own, such as improving recycling, incorporating recycled plastics or bioplastics. Unfortunately, this strategy cannot prevent plastic from reaching the ocean, nor can it reduce the health and human rights risks associated with plastics.
For example, Total Energies aims to create new production capacities for virgin, recycled or bioplastic plastics. With this strategy, the company locks itself, and with it the whole of society, into sustainable infrastructures and technologies which, knowingly, do not respond to the plastic crisis.
"We companies are environmental heroes" aka playing with consumer sensitivities: Sufrider also pinpoints the greenwashing communication of companies aiming to convince consumers that their products are part of the solution to “save the environment”.
Companies like Adidas and IKKS have developed communication strategies aimed at convincing consumers that their products are part of the solution to “save the environment”. They give the impression that they are committed to reducing their plastic impact and that the consumer can act by buying their products which have in no way been proven to have a beneficial impact on the ocean or the environment.
For example, the Professional Advertising Regulatory Authority said that Adidas' advertisement for its Stan Smith shoes "100% iconic, 50% recycled" and the IKKS sailor stripe shirt which "cleans up the 'ocean' did not comply with its recommendations due to the discrepancy of the messages conveyed in their advertisements.
The NGO also denounces a "strategy of window dressing" consisting of using "flattering or unclear calculation methodologies, reports and rating tools" to improve their performance". The secret weapon of industries consists in mastering every detail of their communication, in particular their sustainability indicators because if these are good, or seem on the way to being achieved, then they have the power to affirm before their shareholders, their consumers and before public authorities that everything is under control.
Unilever is a good example of how poor performance in reducing plastics can be embellished by flattering or unclear calculation methodologies, reports and assessment tools.
Plastic neutrality: The underlying idea is to allow companies to continue to use plastic by funding the collection and recycling of an equivalent amount of plastic waste in the environment, thus achieving "neutrality". However, this concept has been widely criticized by experts in the field of sustainability, as it gives the impression that plastic waste is managed efficiently while allowing companies to continue their activities as if nothing had happened.
Act behind the scenes: Many companies strive to project a positive image of sustainability, but behind the sustainability leadership image, companies may have another hidden purpose. Companies like Coca-Cola have become experts in quietly fighting plastic regulations. Coca-Cola also which has been ranked as the biggest plastic-polluting company has though deftly managed to delay, to hijack and derail landmark regulations on reducing plastic.

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  • We Don't Have Time

    48 w

    Dear Jacqueline Marchelli Your climate love has received over 50 agrees! We have reached out to Surfrider Foundation by email and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! To reach more people and increase the chance of a response, click the Share button above to share the review on your social accounts. For every new member that joins We Don't Have Time from your network, we will plant a tree and attribute it to you! /Adam, We Don't Have Time

    • Videlis Eddie

      48 w

      This is commendable and should be encouraged to prevent green washing...

      • George Kariuki

        48 w

        The well-being of our planet and future generations depends on their willingness to prioritize sustainability over short-term gains.

        • Edwin wangombe

          48 w

          Such an awesome step...

          • Kevin

            49 w

            A phenomenal move

            • Munene Mugambi

              49 w

              All these orgs cited here play a hog roe in making plastic pollution a big issue and all while doing almost nothing about it

              • walter lungayi

                49 w

                great move

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