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3 Years After Topping Pollution Charts, Has Coca-Cola Finally Learnt Its Lesson?

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Top beverage brands have been static on reducing plastic waste, after being named the world’s top plastic polluters for the third year straight.

Coca-Cola was ranked world’s no.1 for most littered products by Break Free from plastic in its annual audit, after its beverage bottles were habitually found disposed on rivers, parks, beaches, and other litter sites in 51 of 55 nations surveyed.

Lately, in 2019 it was the most frequently littered bottle in 37 countries, out of 51 surveyed. In comparison to the other two brands namely PepsiCo and Nestle, Coca-Cola’s litter was more than the combined plastic waste of PepsiCo and Nestlé, reflecting that the brand was well-liked by customers.

 

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In March, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, and Unilever were found to be responsible for massive half a million tons of plastic pollution in six developing countries each year, in a a survey by NGO Tearfund.

Gravity Of The Situation

Reports say plastic from Coca-Cola, Nestle, PepsiCo, and Unilever products could cover 83 football pitches every day.

Emma Priestland, Break Free from Plastic’s global campaign coordinator said, “the world’s top polluting corporations claim to be working hard to solve plastic pollution, but instead they are continuing to pump-out harmful single-use plastic packaging.

Priestland said the only way to halt the growing global tide of plastic litter was to stop production, phase out single-use and implement reuse systems.

Up to 91% of all the plastic waste ever generated has not been recycled and it eventually ended up being carbonized, in landfills or the natural environment, according to a 2017 study.

Moreover this year’s audit report of branded plastic waste revealed that the single use sachets, which are used to sell small volumes of products such as ketchup, coffee, and shampoo, were the most commonly found type of item, followed by cigarette butts, then plastic bottles.

In addition, Coca-Cola branding was found on 13,834 pieces of plastic, with PepsiCo tag on 5,155 and Nestle branding on 8,633. According to the annual audit, ventured by 15,000 volunteers across the world analyzed the largest number of plastic products from global brands found in the highest number of countries.

This year only, they collected 346,494 pieces of plastic waste, 63% of which was marked clearly with a consumer brand. Earlier this year Coca-Cola was reprehended from environmental campaigners when the brand announced it would not abandon plastic bottles.

The beverage brand Coca-Cola which is responsible for majority of plastic waste globally said it was working towards addressing packaging, in partnership with
others, and rubbished the claim that it was making no progress.

Globally, we commit to get every bottle back by 2030, so that none of it ends up as littler or in the oceans, thus the plastic can be recycled into new bottles,” a spokesperson said.

Bottles with 100% recycled plastic are now available in 18 markets around the world, and this is repeatedly growing.” The spokesperson said Coca-Cola had also minimized plastic use in secondary packaging, and that globally “more than 20% of our portfolio comes in refillable or fountain packaging.

Innovation And Investments

PepsiCo spokesperson said the actions are taken by company to tackle packaging through, “partnership, innovation and investments.

They said it had set plastic reduction goals “including decreasing virgin plastic in our beverage business by 35% by 2025″ and was alsoincreasing refill and reuse through businesses like SodaStream and SodaStream Professional, which we expect will elude 67bn single-use plastic bottles through 2025.

They added that the company was investing in partnerships to enhance and increase recycling infrastructure and collection, pledging more than $65m since 2018. A statement from Nestle said the the company was working towards “meaningful progress” in sustainable packaging, despite the fact it recognized more was needed.

We are escalating our actions to make 100% of our packaging recyclable or reusable by the year 2025 and to reduce our use of virgin plastics by one-third in the same time. So far, 87% of our total packaging and 66% of our plastic packaging is recyclable or reusable.

Simon Mbata, national coordinator of the South African Waste Pickers Association, said, “The majority of plastic we come across cannot be recycled. We find it everywhere, in our waste stream, on our land. When it is buried, it contaminates our soil. Whatever cannot be recycled must not be produced.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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