The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Coca-Cola Produced More Than 110 Billion Plastic Bottles Last Year
By Andrew McMaster
Every second, more than 20,000 drinks in plastic bottles are purchased around the globe.
That adds up to more than 1 million bottles a minute and nearly 500 billion bottles per year.
It may come as no surprise then that the largest beverage manufacturer, Coca-Cola, reportedly manufactured more than 110 billion plastic bottles in 2016.
"We have calculated [Coca-Cola] produced over 110 billion throwaway plastic bottles every year—an astounding 3,400 a second," Louise Edge, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace, told the Guardian.
Greenpeace has been campaigning for Coke to stop polluting oceans with plastic bottles over the last few months. The organization reports that plastic bottles are one of the most commonly found items on beaches across the world, bringing a litany of environmental hazards with them wherever they pop up.
"Once [plastic bottles] are in the environment, they become a hazard for wildlife," wrote Tisha Brown, a campaigner for Greenpeace's ocean team. "Larger pieces of plastic can become an entanglement or choking hazard for animals. These larger plastics break down over time into microplastics which have been found in everything from seafood, sea salt and even our drinking water."
Greenpeace, for its part, has used a variety of tactics to raise awareness of the soda company's pollutive ways, such as posting fake Coke advertisements labeled "Choke" and erecting a sculpture of a seagull vomiting garbage outside of Coke's UK headquarters using plastic bottles.
All of these measures were intended to raise awareness about the growing need to address plastic levels in our oceans. It has been estimated that there could be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans by 2050.
In response to these concerns, Coca-Cola UK announced several measures aimed at reducing plastic use, including a pledge to increase recycled plastic in its bottles to 50 percent by 2020.
Many feel this target does not represent a true commitment to fighting pollution by the company. Amid investigations of the size and scope of Coke's manufacturing process, Greenpeace activists see many of the beverage giant's actions as PR moves.
"We were trying to uncover for the first time the true size of Coca-Cola's plastic footprint," Louisa Casson, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace, told CNN. "And we are actually seeing them going backwards. Rather than investing more in refillables and reusables, they've increased their use of single-use plastic bottles over the last decade."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.