Ground-breaking report reveals the hypocrisy of the world’s biggest plastic polluters

Ground-breaking report reveals the hypocrisy of the world’s biggest plastic polluters

‘Talking Trash’ exposes how Big Plastic has obstructed and undermined proven legislative solutions to the crisis, including in Kenya 

In partnership with The Changing Markets Foundation, Clean Up Kenya has launched a report titled, ‘Talking Trash: The corporate playbook of false solutions to the plastic crisis’, in Nairobi, Kenya, on 17th September 2020

This new investigative report exposes industry tactics in the face of an unprecedented plastic pollution crisis and growing public pressure to address it. Based on research and investigations in over 15 countries across five continents – including Kenya – it exposes how – behind a veil of nice-sounding initiatives and commitments to address the plastics crisis – the industry has obstructed and undermined proven legislative solutions for decades.

The launch in Kenya is part of a global effort that has seen the report unveiled in several countries across the world.

Talking Trash has critically analysed voluntary commitments from the top ten biggest plastic polluters (Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Mars Incorporated, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Perfetti Van Melle, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever), who have a joint plastic footprint of almost 10 million tonnes per year. The report also dissected the most prominent group initiatives (some of them championed by governments and Non-Governmental Organisations) and revealed how companies across the plastic supply chain – from the oil industry to consumer brands and retailers – really act behind the scenes.

This analysis shows that not only have voluntary initiatives failed to contain the plastics crisis but that companies have used these initiatives as a tactic to delay and derail progressive legislation – all while distracting consumers and governments with empty promises and false solutions.

Nusa Urbancic, Campaigns Director at the Changing Markets Foundation, has said: “This report exposes the two-faced hypocrisy of plastic polluters, which claim to be committed to solutions, but at the same time use a host of dirty tricks to ensure that they can continue pumping out cheap, disposable plastic, polluting the planet at a devastating rate.

“Plastic is now pouring into the natural world at a rate of one garbage truck a minute, creating a crisis for wildlife, the climate and public health. The responsibility for this disaster lies with Big Plastic – including major household brands – which have lobbied against progressive legislation for decades, greenwashed their environmental credentials and blamed the public for littering, rather than assuming responsibility for own actions.”

The chapter on Kenya reveals the tactics of consumer brands in greenwashing their image and stalling legislation which include:

  1. Lobbying the government to delay legislation on sustainable management of certain plastics like PET bottles (example Kenya Association of Manufacturers entered into a framework with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in 2018 that saw the formation of PETCO Kenya, a voluntary Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme that has failed to solve the plastic pollution problem) 
  2. Launching nice-sounding reports that present their efforts and commitments to tackle the problem without any accountability (example Kenya Association of Manufacturers launched Kenya Plastic Action Plan in 2019
  3. Flooding the media with advertising to compromise their independence in reporting problems as seen in late 2019, and 
  4. Engaging in greenwashing activities that involve clean-ups, media sponsorships, funding competitions and low-key waste infrastructure

All these they do while failing to address the root cause of the problem or support progressive legislation, such as a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for Kenya.

The report builds on the work of Clean Up Kenya in exposing the dark side of the plastic industry in Kenya, including that of corruption, child labour violations and exploitation of poor women working in the recycling industry.

Betterman Simidi Musasia, Clean Up Kenya Founder and Patron and former CEO, has said of the report: “This report separates the chaff from the grain. There are many Non-Governmental Organisations, media organisations, environmental activists, and even government agencies, including here in Kenya who have been absorbed into the recycling lie of big consumer brands. They accept funding from these polluters and unknowingly aid them in the destruction of the planet.”

Martin Muriithi, Clean Up Kenya Advisory Board Chairperson, has said of the report: “We only have one shot. If we let the culprits go too far, we will never catch up with them. Now is the time to act.”

Monicah Ngatia, Clean Up Kenya Country Director has observed: “We encourage everyone particularly the policymakers, media, civil society, all Kenyans and friends of Kenya to read this report and to act on its recommendations.” END

The Talking Trash report is available at www.talking-trash.com

For more information including media enquiries, to host Clean Up Kenya officials to discuss this report or to receive a copy of the report by email write to info@cleanupkenya.org or call +254-721-859-981 / +254-735-695810

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