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HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT

End single-use plastics, lobby urges

Greenpeace Africa says the materials are a major source of pollution

In Summary

• Greenpeace Africa stages peaceful protest to Nestlé Foods Kenya's offices at Industrial Area

• But Nestle says its 4,200 facilities worldwide are committed to eliminating single-use plastic items that cannot be recycled

Plastics are a major source of pollution
BANNED: Plastics are a major source of pollution
Image: FILE

The fast moving consumer goods industry has been asked to take responsibility and re-evaluate its dependency on single-use plastic bags.

Lobby group Greenpeace Africa says such companies remain a major headache in the war against pollution as they are some of the major contributors to the plastics crisis.

"These companies must forget about the bottom line and cease production of single-use plastics," Renee Olende, plastics campaigns lead with Greenpeace, said.

"We need to put the brakes on the production of single-use plastics, starting right now."

Olende challenged Nestlé to publicly and annually disclose comprehensive information about the company's packaging foot print including plastics, paper and other bio-based material substitutes used.

Greenpeace yesterday staged a peaceful protest to Nestle Foods Kenya's offices at Industrial Area.

The lobby took  a giant effigy christened "Ngori" which loosely means "problem" to Nestle's gate.

Ngori was of tonnes of various plastics.

Nestle communication officer James Ojiambo said its 4,200 facilities worldwide are committed to eliminating single-use plastic items that cannot be recycled. 

 "These items will be replaced by materials that can easily be recycled or reused. We encourage the consumption of all of our products at our locations," he said.

Nestle says for recyclable materials such as PET and aluminum, they will ensure proper means to collect them are available where consumed.

Greenpeace Africa's plastic campaigner Amos Wemanya said plastic has become a major menace in most countries.

"Plastic waste has polluted the oceans and is affecting human health. In Africa, our drainage systems are clogged, our animals and livelihoods are threatened. Corporations' indiscriminate and unsustainable plastic production is the cause of these problems," Wemanya said.

Only 14 per cent of plastic packaging globally is collected for recycling.

When additional costs associated with sorting and reprocessing are factored in, only five per cent of packaging is retained for subsequent use.

Each year, at least 8.8 million tons of plastics leak into the ocean: the equivalent of dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute.

Unless corrective action is taken, this figure is expected to increase to two trucks per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050.

The oceans currently hold over 150 million tons of plastic waste.

Wemanya said Nestle last year produced 1.7 million tonnes of plastic packaging -nearly 300 garbage trucks a day.

"This is compared to 1.5 million tonnes it produced in 2007,"he said.

Wemanya said it is crucial for corporates such as Nestle to stop the production of single-use plastics and rethink their packaging.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaign organization acting to change attitudes and behaviour in order to protect and conserve the environment.

It campaigns for sustainable agriculture by protecting biodiversity and encouraging ecological farming that is good for the planet and people.

Wemanya said Nestlé should show true leadership and confront culture that underpins its current business models.

Of concern to activists is that most firms dealing with fast moving goods are growing at between one and six per cent each year.

This means the fastest growing businesses could double their size in as few as ten years at current growth rates.

Despite the fast growth, none of the biggest global companies are publicly discussing the urgent need to address their business models to remedy the environmental burden of operating single-use product delivery systems.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé were last year the most frequent companies identified in 239 cleanups and brand audits spanning 42 countries and six continents.

Over 187,000 pieces of plastic trash were audited, identifying thousands of brands whose packaging relies on the single-use plastics that pollute oceans and waterways globally.

Coca-Cola was the top polluter in the global audit, with Coke-branded plastic pollution found in 40 of the 42 participating countries.

The brand audit effort was the most comprehensive snapshot of the worst plastic polluting companies around the world.

Single use plastics were banned by the government through gazette notice of February 28, 2017.