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World’s biggest plastic polluter named sponsor for COP27

World's biggest plastic polluter named sponsor for COP27

The Egyptian government announced that it has signed a cooperation agreement with Coca-Cola, presenting the company as a sponsor of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh from 6 to 18 November.

Coca-Cola produces 120 billion disposable plastic bottles a year, 99% of which are made from fossil fuels, worsening both the plastic crisis and the climate crisis.

Ambassador Achraf Ibrahim, the General Coordinator of Organizational and Financial Aspects of the conference, presented the Coca-Cola Company as a supplier and sponsor of the 27th Annual Conference of the Parties on Climate Change of the United Nations (COP27).

The first world climate conference was held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1979. Since then, its goal has been to provide a platform for governments, the private sector and civil society to discuss their role in creating solutions that help alleviate the impacts of climate change. This year it will be held from November 6 to 18, 2022 in Sharm-El Sheikh (Egypt).

During the signing ceremony, at the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo, the vice president of Coca-Cola operations in North Africa, Ahmed Rady, assured us that this joint work “will create shared opportunities for communities and people from all over the world.”

Biggest plastic polluter

John Hocevar, director of Greenpeace USA’s oceans campaign, said: “It is baffling that Coca-Cola – the world’s biggest plastic polluter in all global Break Free From Plastic brand audits, including Kenya and Uganda – will sponsor this year’s UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Egypt.

“We know that global challenges like plastic waste, water stewardship and climate change are too big for any one government, company or industry to solve individually,” said Michael Goltzman, Global Vice President of Public Policy and Sustainability at The Coca company. “COP27 gives us the opportunity to continue engaging with experts, non-profit organizations, industry and governments to support actions towards sustainable change across our value chain.”

Coca-Cola said: “We share the goal of removing waste from the ocean and appreciate efforts to raise awareness of this challenge. We are prepared to do our part and have set ambitious goals for our business, starting with helping to collect and recycle one bottle or can for every bottle we sell, no matter where it comes from, by 2030.

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“In 2020 we signed a joint statement urging member states of the United Nations to adopt a global treaty to address the problem of plastic waste through a holistic circular economy approach… Our support for Cop27 is in line with our science-based goal to reduce absolute carbon emissions. 25% by 2030, and our ambition of zero net carbon emissions by 2050”.

However, in 2019, Coca-Cola itself admitted that it produced 3 million tons of plastic per year, more or less 200,000 bottles per minute. Break Free From Plastic, a nonprofit organization claimed that the company was the world’s largest plastic polluter and that there are currently more discarded Coca-Cola containers than any other brand.

The company’s brand was discovered on 13,834 pieces of plastic at 51 of the 55 sites surveyed, more than the combined total of Nestlé (8,633) and PepsiCo (5,155), which were the second and third-worst polluters.

The project, which is run by 15,000 volunteers, collected almost 350,000 pieces of plastic waste, of which 63 per cent was marked with an identifiable mark. In total, more than 5,000 brands were identified in the survey.

Greenpeace accused Coca-Cola, Nestle and PepsiCo of failing to adequately address the plastic crisis and of “partnering” with oil companies to produce even more environmentally harmful material.

Although Coca-Cola started a campaign to clean up its image and help the planet, which it called a “world without waste”, the BBC in London carried out an investigation in 2021 in which it revealed that the company is having difficulties in meeting its commitments.

“The conference will take place as thousands of people like academics, activists, journalists, and students are still jailed and abused for demanding basic human rights. The response of the military regime to protests and campaigns related to environmental issues has been just as harsh, whether over plans to build coal-fired power stations, polluting industries or the destruction of green spaces,” Paul Whang, Climate Action Fellow for Fairfax concluded.

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