With the recent UN report that outlined just how fucked we are by climate change it’s probably time that everyone should take all aspects of pollution seriously.
That’s why we probably shouldn’t overlook an audit just released by Greenpeace which outlines who the worst plastic polluters are in Canada. And don’t worry too much, it’s not like you’re going to find out that your fave is problematic. In fact, the top plastic polluters are all companies most Canadians should have a relatively easy time complaining about.
In order to get this information the Greenpeace team conducted five audits across the country: two in Toronto, one in Vancouver, Montreal, and Tofino, BC. Here they collected 10,000 litres of trash and found that of that 75 percent was plastic. In that heap of plastic, they found 2,231 pieces of identifiable trash and almost half of that, 46 percent came from just five companies.
According to Greenpeace, the top plastic polluters in the country are Nestlé, Tim Hortons, PepsiCo, the Coca-Cola Company and McDonald's in that order. Sarah King, Greenpeace Canada’s Head of Oceans and Plastics, stated in a press release that the organization wants to take polluting brands to task because cleaning up the trash thrown out by Canadians quickly becomes a Sisyphean task.
“It’s clear that cleanups and recycling cannot contend with the never-ending flow of single-use plastic waste being produced by corporations,” said King. ”The only way to curb plastic pollution is by stopping corporations from producing throwaway plastics in the first place.”
Coca-Cola has the dubious honour of being the biggest plastic polluter in the world. In terms of what Canadians toss the most, well, it’s food wrappers, plastic bottles, cups. bottle caps, shopping bags, lids, straws, stirrers, cutlery, and containers in that order.
The top polluter in Canada isn’t exactly surprising, as Nestlé—with all the water extracting, child labour, misleading its consumers, and all that—is essentially the closest thing a company has ever gotten to personifying Bond villain. The second won’t make any heads explode either as Tim Hortons continues their James Cameron-esque exploration of the deepest, darkest depths of Canadian bad press. In a write up on Greenpeace Canada’s website, King laments that Timmy cups are everywhere across the country.
“In my own experience, it’s impossible to count the number of Timmy Ho coffee cups or lids I have seen or picked up along a highway, in a park, on a beach or along a river,” wrote King. “So it’s no wonder that the prevalence of these cups at our cleanup and audit locations landed this company in the second top polluter spot in Canada.”
The environmental organization has led 239 audits across the world so far. When contacted by the CBC, all of the companies included in the list said that they are making commitments to lessening their impact and making their products easier to recycle.
It’s probably time we make sure they’re not just paying lip service, eh?
Sign up for the VICE Canada Newsletter to get the best of VICE Canada delivered to your inbox.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.