efe-epaSara Gomez Armas Manila

Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle are among the companies that contribute most to ocean pollution with single-use plastics, according to a study presented on Tuesday by the "Break Free from Plastic" initiative.

The environmental movement, launched in 2016, has helped clear the coasts of 42 countries around the world of discarded plastics.

"These brand audits offer undeniable proof of the role that corporations play in perpetuating the global plastic pollution crisis," said the Global Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic Von Hernandez at the presentation of the study in Manila.

Between Sep. 9 and 15, more than 10,000 volunteers carried out 239 plastic cleaning actions on coasts and other natural environments in 42 countries around the world.

They collected more than 187,000 pieces of plastic, of which more than 65 percent were from products by Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle. but companies such as Danone, Mondelez, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever, among others, were also mentioned in the report.

"The companies have a choice to make. They can be part of the problem or they can be part of the solution", Hernandez told EFE. "If they continue the use of problematic and unnecessary plastic packaging they are just encouraging more production and more pollution".

Around 100,000 pieces of plastic collected were made of materials that are not biodegradable, such as polystyrene, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or the film of single-use plastic.

Plastic production has reached 320 million metric tonnes per year and is expected to grow by 40 percent over the next decade, which will exponentially increase the release of greenhouse gases, as 90 percent of plastics are produced from fossil fuels and pollutants.

"We must act now to demand that corporate brands reject their overpackaging habit in order to meaningfully reverse the demand for new plastic," said Hernandez, who leads the movement after serving as director of Greenpeace in Southeast Asia from 2014 to 2018.

The study said that these large corporations must take responsibility for polluting the environment, as production of plastics exposes harmful substances to communities living near factories and pollutes foods and products contained in plastic wraps.

"People are accumulating in phthalates and endocrine-disrupting chemicals in their bloodstreams through exposure. And finally tax-paying citizens end up shouldering the burden and massive costs associated with the management and disposal of plastic," warned the study.

Eighty percent of the 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic produced since 1950 are still present in the environment, mainly in the oceans, according to recent studies cited in the "Break Free From Plastic" report presented on Tuesday.

Since then, only 9 percent of that plastic has been properly recycled, and 12 percent incinerated.