The Companies Whose Products Result in the Most Plastic Trash

It's hard to buy anything these days that isn't made of plastic or packaged in it. Global production of plastic has topped 320 million metric tons per year. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic that have been produced since the 1950s, only 9% has been recycled, according to a report by Break Free from Plastic. The rest of it ends up in landfills, rivers, oceans or other parts of the environment. We increasingly see images of wildlife suffering the consequences.

Break Free From Plastic is a global movement calling on corporations to reduce their use of single-use plastic, redesign delivery systems to minimize or eliminate packaging, and be accountable for the plastic pollution the organization says is straining waste management systems and the environment.

To find out which companies produce much of the plastic that ends up in the environment, Break Free conducted an audit of plastic pollution in 42 countries, collecting more than 187,000 pieces of plastic trash and identifying thousands of brands whose packaging relies on the single-use plastics.

Participants in the cleanups were trained to define their cleanup area, collect all waste found in that area, count and record the brand, parent manufacturer, product type (food, personal care, or household product), and packaging type for each piece of waste collected. The most common types of trash they found were plastic food wrappers, bottle caps, bottles, plastic bags, straws, lids, utensils and other plastics.

Above, participants cleaned a stretch of beach on Freedom Island along Manila Bay in the Philippines over eight days in 2017. They collected a total of 54,260 pieces of plastic waste.

Based on the October 2018 report by Break Free from Plastic, these are the brands that appeared the most in all 42 countries.

Photo: Break Free From Plastic

1. Coca Cola
1. Coca Cola

1. Coca Cola

(KO - Get Report)

Coca-Cola was the most prolific, found in 40 of 42 countries. More than 75% of all 239 participating cleanups reported finding Coca-Cola branded products along their coasts, shorelines, parks, and streets.

Photo: Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock

2. PepsiCo
2. PepsiCo

2. PepsiCo

(PEP - Get Report)

Photo: Grzegorz Czapski / Shutterstock

3. Nestle
3. Nestle

3. Nestle

(NSRGY)

According to the report, the top three companies, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestle, accounted for 14% of the branded plastic pollution found worldwide.

Photo: Karan Bunjean / Shutterstock

4. Danone
4. Danone

4. Danone

(DANOY)

The French multinational food-products corporation is based in Paris; brands include Dannon, Activia, Oikos, Silk and Evian.

Photo: Toshio Chan / Shutterstock

5. Mondelez International
5. Mondelez International

5. Mondelez International

(MDLZ - Get Report)

Mondelez is an American multinational confectionery, food, and beverage company based in Illinois. Brands include Oreos, Ritz, Halls, Cadbury, Nabisco, Trident, Tang, and Triscuits.

Photo: mohd kamarul hafiz / Shutterstock

6. 7-Eleven
6. 7-Eleven

6. 7-Eleven

The Japanese-owned American international chain of convenience stores is headquartered in Dallas.

Photo: Sorbis / Shutterstock

7. Procter & Gamble
7. Procter & Gamble

7. Procter & Gamble

(PG - Get Report)

The Cincinnati-based company makes dozens of well-known American brands, including Bounty, Crest, Tide, Febreze, Dawn and Swiffer.

Photo: ZikG / Shutterstock

8. Unilever
8. Unilever

8. Unilever

(UN)

Unilever's products include food and beverages, cleaning agents and beauty and personal care products. It is Europe's seventh most valuable company.

Photo: Faizal Ramli / Shutterstock

9. Perfetti van Melle
9. Perfetti van Melle

9. Perfetti van Melle

The privately-held Dutch company makes candy and gum.

Photo: mohd kamarul hafiz / Shutterstock

10. Mars Incorporated
10. Mars Incorporated

10. Mars Inc.

A few of Mars' products include Snickers, Twix, M&Ms, Dove, Altoids, several gum brands, a range of international food brands, and several pet foods, including Iams, Eukanuba and Pedigree.

Photo: Mino Surkala / Shutterstock

11. Colgate-Palmolive
11. Colgate-Palmolive

11. Colgate-Palmolive

(CL - Get Report)

Photo: Ismail Sadiron / Shutterstock

12. McDonald's
12. McDonald's

12. McDonald's

(MCD - Get Report)

Photo: paul rushton / Shutterstock

13. Bimbo
13. Bimbo

13. Bimbo

(GRBMF)

Grupo Bimbo, known as Bimbo, is a Mexican multinational bakery product manufacturing company headquartered in Mexico City.

Photo: Jarretera / Shutterstock

14. Universal Robina
14. Universal Robina

14. Universal Robina

(UVRBF)

Universal Robina is one of the largest branded consumer food and beverage product companies in the Philippines. Above, trash clogs a river in Manila.

Photo: Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock

15. Indofood
15. Indofood

15. Indofood

(PIFMF)

Indofood is major Indonesian food company based in Jakarta. Their beverages division is an exclusive bottler for PepsiCo products, producing carbonated soft drinks and energy drinks under the Pepsi and Sting brands.

Photo: Akhmad Dody Firmansyah / Shutterstock

16. Hershey Company
16. Hershey Company

16. Hershey Company

(HSY - Get Report)

Photo: Hershey Company

17. Costco
17. Costco

17. Costco

(COST - Get Report)

Photo: melissamn / Shutterstock

18. Starbucks
18. Starbucks

18. Starbucks

(SBUX - Get Report)

Starbucks was one of the top three brands of plastic trash found during a cleanup of Malibu, Calif. beaches in 2018, according to the report.

Photo: icedmocha / Shutterstock

19. Restaurant Brands International
19. Restaurant Brands International

19. Restaurant Brands International

(QSR - Get Report)

The Canadian multinational fast food holding company was formed in 2014 by a $12.5 billion merger between Burger King and Canadian coffee shop chain Tim Hortons. The company is the fifth-largest operator of fast food restaurants in the world.

Photo: natthi phaocharoen / Shutterstock

20. Ferrero
20. Ferrero

20. Ferrero

Ferrero is an Italian manufacturer of branded chocolate and confectionery products. One comparison found that a 32-piece Ferrero Rocher Collection used the most packaging compared with several other bestselling chocolates, (42.4% of the total weight of the box.)

Photo: Hafiz Johari / Shutterstock

21. Philip Morris
21. Philip Morris

21. Philip Morris

(PM - Get Report)

In 2016, a photographer captured this image of a Philip Morris plastic cigarette wrapper inside a jelly fish.

Photo: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

22. Kraft Heinz
22. Kraft Heinz

22. Kraft Heinz

(KHC - Get Report)

Photo: designs by Jack / Shutterstock

23. General Mills
23. General Mills

23. General Mills

(GIS - Get Report)

According to the Break Free from Plastic report, General Mills was one of the top three brands of plastic trash found during a cleanup of Malibu, Calif. beaches in 2018. General Mills makes Yoplait; the shape of the Yoplait cups has long been criticized for killing small animals such as squirrels and skunks who tend to get their heads stuck in them and die of thirst or starvation.

Photo: designs by Jack / Shutterstock

24. Mayora Indah
24. Mayora Indah

24. Mayora Indah

The Indonesian consumer products company makes a variety of food brands, including candy bars, bottled water, bottled coffee drinks and other coffee products, and instant foods.

Photo: Mayora

25. Keurig Dr Pepper
25. Keurig Dr Pepper

25. Keurig Dr Pepper

(KDP)

The company owns several coffee brands, including Peet's, Tully's, Newman's Own, Krispy Kreme, and Kahlua, as well as several well-known soft drinks, including Schweppes, Canada Dry, 7-Up, Dr Pepper, A&W, Sunkist and Squirt.

Photo: Dave Nelson / Shutterstock

26. Heineken International
26. Heineken International

26. Heineken International

(HEINY)

The Dutch company makes several beer and cider brands besides Heineken, including Amstel, Sol, Tecate, and Red Stripe. Above, a seagull is seen caught in a six-pack ring. At least one beer company- Carlsberg - has gotten rid of the plastic six-pack rings in the U.K. and uses a type of glue.

Photo: Shutterstock

27. Solo Cup Co.
27. Solo Cup Co.

27. Solo Cup Co.

The Solo Cup Company of Delaware makes disposable paper and plastic cups, plates and utensils.

Photo: Shutterstock

28. Walmart
28. Walmart

28. Walmart

(WMT - Get Report)

Photo: QualityHD / Shutterstock

29. Kellogg Company
29. Kellogg Company

29. Kellogg Company

(K - Get Report)

Photo: urbanbuzz / Shutterstock

30. Lidl
30. Lidl

30. Lidl

The German discount supermarket chain operates more than 10,000 stores across Europe and the U.S.

Photo: monticello / Shutterstock

For More Information
For More Information

See the full report and methodology here. For more information about the plastic pollution brand audits, visit Break Free From Plastic.

Photo: Rich Carey/ Shutterstock

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