These 4 companies produce 6 million tons of plastic every year

By Irina Ivanova

/ MoneyWatch

Some stores say goodbye to packaging

Four of the world's largest consumer goods companies produce 6 millions of tons of plastic waste every year, the companies revealed in a report published Thursday.

Coca-Cola, Mars, Nestle and Danone are responsible for 6 million metric tons of plastic every year, according to company-provided figures in a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Coca-Cola alone produces 3 million tons.

It's the first time Coca-Cola has been public about its packaging production. The disclosure comes as part of a commitment the Atlanta-based company made late last year to reduce its reliance on plastic packaging, which "included an increased level of transparency in the disclosure of our packaging," Coca-Cola said in a statement. "We'll continue this type of proactive reporting on our World Without Waste progress as we work to hit our goals by 2030," the statement said.

Coca-Cola has promised to make all of its packaging recyclable over the next six years and for its bottles to have an average of 50 percent recycled content by 2030.

Some 150 businesses have made similar commitments, detailed in the "New Plastics Economy" report published Thursday. Most of them, however, do not reveal their waste figures. Those include Johnson and Johnson, H&M, Kellogg, L'Oreal and Coca-Cola competitor PepsiCo. Major retailers, including Target and Walmart, likewise declined to disclose how much plastic they produce.

The 150 companies that signed on to the report account for one-fifth of the plastic packaging produced in the world, estimates the Ellen MacArthur foundation.

The top 10 most common beach trash items

In the U.S., 14 million tons of plastic packaging are produced every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It's unlikely that commitments to make more plastic recyclable will greatly reduce that figure, say environmental advocates, since less than one-tenth of all the plastic ever made has been recycled. Some 40 percent of the plastic produced is used just once before being tossed.

That's led a few small retailers to consciously adopt a zero-packaging strategy. The Refill Shoppe in Los Angeles, for instance, sells only unpackaged bulk products. Customers can bring their own bottle or buy a reusable glass container at the store.

"We're trying to make a little less trash in the world," said owner Michelle Stevens.

In the eight years the store's been open, it has filled 30,000 refills.

First published on March 14, 2019 / 1:16 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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