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Sign placed by volunteers at the Joshua Tree National Park in California on Jan. 3 after the federal government's partial shutdown. MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images

By Miranda Fox

The impacts of the government shutdown on the nation's national parks have been widely reported: overflowing bathrooms, decimated habitat and widespread litter resulted in parks that remained open without staff oversight and management. In response, individuals, organizations and corporations have volunteered to help out with the clean-up. One of these is Nestlé Waters North America, which released this statement last week:

"At Nestlé Waters North America, we believe that even one bottle or can that is not recycled properly is one too many. When we heard about the need in our national parks, we wanted to help."

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Greenpeace activists at the Suwung landfill in Bali, Indonesia. Jurnasyanto Sukarno / Greenpeace

The biggest food, drink and consumer brands—including Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Unilever and H&M—joined a global campaign on Monday to tackle plastic waste.

The "New Plastics Economy Global Commitment," spearheaded by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was "cautiously welcomed" by some environmental groups, who say the initiative does not go far enough to halt the planet's mounting plastic crisis.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Coke bottles found on Mull Beach in Scotland. Will Rose / Greenpeace

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé were identified as the world's biggest producers of plastic trash in global cleanups and brand audits, a new report from Greenpeace and the Break Free From Plastic movement reveals.

Over the span of nine months, an international team of volunteers sorted through 187,000 pieces of plastic trash collected from 239 cleanups in 42 countries around the world.

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utt73 / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The U.S. Forest Service offered Nestlé a three-year permit on Wednesday to keep taking millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino National Forest in California, the Associated Press reported.

The offer has certain restrictions. Nestlé, which sells bottled water under the Arrowhead brand, can continue piping from the Strawberry Creek watershed "when there is water available consistent with the forest's Land Management Plan," according to the AP, citing the Forest Service offer. The watershed is currently rated as "impaired."

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Big Bear Lake is a major reservoir in the Santa Ana River watershed in the San Bernardino Mountains. Darkest tree / CC BY 3.0

Federal officials and conservation groups reached an agreement Wednesday that will finally end Nestlé Corp.'s ability to rely on a permit that expired 30 years ago to siphon water from the San Bernardino National Forest for its massive bottled-water operation. The company's diversion has severely reduced water in spring-fed Strawberry Creek, which forest wildlife and plants need to survive.

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Freedom Island Beach in the Philippines. Greenpeace

The environmental impact of the world's plastic consumption is profound. Plastic trash and the tiny pieces that chip off it can be found everywhere—in oceans, marine life, land and our bodies, too.

To help solve this planetary crisis, Nestlé pledged Tuesday to make all its plastic packaging 100 percent recyclable or reusable by 2025. The Swiss food giant envisions a world where "none of its packaging, including plastics, ends up in landfill or as litter," it said.

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Kate Ter Haar / Flickr

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has granted Nestlé Waters a permit to increase groundwater withdrawal from 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute from its White Pine Springs well for the purpose of bottling drinking water.

The approval comes despite near universal opposition from residents, who cite the Swiss food and beverage giant's nominal $200-a-year fee to pump water from its wells. The fee will not change with the new permit.

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ricardo / zone41.net

You now have another good reason to avoid bottled water. An investigation on brands from around the world determined that the water is often contaminated with tiny pieces of plastic.

The new study, conducted by journalism organization Orb Media and researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia, has already prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to launch a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water.

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64 percent of bottled water comes from municipal tap water sources.

By Julia Conley

Bottled water companies have relied on predatory marketing practices and exorbitant lobbying efforts to sell Americans on the inaccurate belief that pre-packaged water is cleaner and safer than tap water—a notion that is costing U.S. households about $16 billion per year.

In a new report entitled "Take Back the Tap," Food & Water Watch explains that 64 percent of bottled water comes from municipal tap water sources—meaning that Americans are often unknowingly paying for water that would otherwise be free or nearly free.

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The Chippewa River in Michigan. Chippewa Nature Center

By Miranda Fox

The Swiss multinational Nestlé has been facing increasing scrutiny in Michigan. Outside of the small town of Evart, a mere 128 miles from Flint, Nestlé is attempting to increase how much spring water it is taking for water bottling. Nestlé submitted an application with Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) late last year to increase pumping from 250 to 400 gallons per minute at its White Pine Springs well No. 101 in Osceola County. However, local residents and Michiganders across the state came together in droves at the last public meeting to speak out against Nestlé's proposal. More than 500 attended the meeting, and nearly everyone opposed the application.

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Nestlé / Twitter

Nestlé, the biggest food company in the world, announced Thursday it will only use eggs from cage-free hens for all its food products globally by 2025—a major step in the global cage-free movement, animal rights advocates said.

The company said the transition will happen in Europe and the U.S. by the end of 2020, with the rest of the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania to follow by 2025.

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