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Plastic is not only one of the main products made from fossil fuels: it’s also one of the most enduring. Plastic bottles can take up to 450 years to break down. The resulting pieces of microplastics harm animals and humans alike – polluting oceans, soil and even the air. 79 million tonnes of plastic waste were released into the environment through terrestrial or aquatic leakage, open-pit burning, or dumpsites in 2019. That represents over one-fifth of the global total.
The food and drink industry is one of the biggest plastics polluters in the world. That's why we've researched over 50 of Europe's biggest food and drink companies to find out if they aim to reduce their plastics consumption – and if they're following through on promises. In total, we've identified 98 plastics commitments made during the past 20 years by 24 large food and drink companies headquartered in Europe – including Nestlé, AB InBev, Danone, and Unilever. More than half of these pledges were only made in the last few years, with most offering the stated aim of 2025.
Kira Schacht (Deutsche Welle, coordinator)
Kira Schacht is a data journalist at Deutsche Welle . Studied data-driven journalism at the Technical University of Dortmund and trained at rbb science. She is part of the data journalism initiative Journocode .
Two-thirds of pledges to go greener on plastic fail or are dropped, a DW investigation has found. Here's how European food and drink companies break their own commitments, and how legislation might hold them accountable.
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