Campaigners demand refill revolution

Five of the world’s biggest food and drink companies are being urged to tackle their impact on plastic pollution by switching from single-use to refillable and reusable packaging.

The call came from a coalition of over 400 global organisations, including Greenpeace, the Women’s Institute and the Muslim Council of Britain, to mark World Refill Day on Thursday.

In an open letter coordinated by environmental NGO, City to Sea, they called on the five biggest plastic polluters (as identified by the global Break Free From Plastic movement) – Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Unilever, and Procter & Gamble – to address the environmental, social and health impacts their plastic use is having on communities disproportionally from the Global South.

A survey by City to Sea found that 91% of British citizens are taking steps to reduce their single-use plastic, with 41% saying they would like to do more. Almost two thirds (64%) say they do not think big brands are doing enough to address plastic pollution and 65% believe supermarkets and brands are not doing enough to provide affordable refillable or packaging-free options to customers.

In the letter, the companies are urged to reveal the full extent of their plastic footprint if they do not already do so and to reduce the amount of plastic they use by setting ambitious, transparent targets, complete with action plans on how to achieve them. They are also asked to reinvent their packaging to make it suitable for refill and reuse in a way that is accessible and affordable to all, while committing to collaborate with other companies to standardise reusable packaging and build shared reuse systems and infrastructure.

Earlier this year the Coca-Cola Company, which is identified as the biggest plastic polluter, announced a goal to have at least 25% of all beverages globally across its portfolio of brands sold in refillable glass or plastic bottles, or in refillable containers through traditional fountains or dispensers.

“Refillable packaging is the solution to plastic pollution, but we need to make sure this is delivered at pace in a way that is affordable and accessible for all,” said Natalie Fée, CEO and founder of City to Sea.

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