European food companies break their plastics promises

According to a DW investigation, two-thirds of commitments to use less plastic fail or are abandoned. Here are some examples of how European food and beverage corporations violate their own agreements and some potential legal remedies.

Back in 2008, the French food juggernaut Danone set a lofty goal: By the end of the following year, 50% of the plastics used in the company’s water bottles would be created from recycled resources. The action was described as “a lever for reducing packing weight and minimizing CO2 emissions” in Danone’s sustainability report.

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It would have been a positive step in the fight against the global contamination of plastic. One of the most durable items manufactured from fossil fuels like oil and natural gas is plastic, which is also one of the most common. For instance, it might take up to 450 years for plastic bottles to decompose. The ensuing microplastic debris is harmful to both humans and animals, polluting the air, soil, and oceans. Additionally, one of the major global emitters of plastics is the food and beverage sector.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that 79 million tons of plastic garbage were released into the environment in 2019 via leaks on land or in the water, open-pit burning, or landfills. That accounts for more than a sixth of the total worldwide.

Have businesses acted on their commitments to improve? To find out, DW and the European Data Journalism Network conducted research on some of Europe’s largest food and beverage corporations.

Danone did not, to name one. The company’s goal for recycled plastics has changed by 2009: “The group aspires to attain 20-30% in 2011,” according to its 2009 report. “And finally 50%.” When the business also fell short of that aim, it changed the objective once more. once more. Danone still only employed 20% recycled PET in its water bottles globally as of 2020. And Danone has a well-known objective for 2025, 16 years after its first self-imposed deadline: 50% recycled plastic in water bottles.

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