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Brands under pressure due to plastic procrastination

Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Unilever are currently among the top 10 most criticised brands due to their perceived inaction to tackle excess single-use packaging.

However, Hilton has received high praise for its commitment to animal welfare, according to the latest data from tracking firm Sigwatch.

Nestlé was the company most criticised by activists in the second quarter of 2019, attracting more than double the amount of NGO disapproval as the number two most reproached brand, Johnson & Johnson.

Their focus on recycling rather than reduction has left food companies exposed to the ire of NGOs, with Nestlé in particular being “made an example of”.

“In the eyes of NGOs, corporates’ current efforts on plastics don’t go far enough,” explained Robert Blood, founder and managing director of Sigwatch. “In particular, Greenpeace and its allies are disappointed that big business is focusing on recycling rather than reduced use.”

Blood said NGOs are hoping for a domino effect: by spurring one major brand – in this case Nestlé – into action the others will follow by default.

Last month, Nestlé launched its YES! snack bars in a new recyclable paper wrapper – an innovation the firm claims will result in widespread replacement of plastic with paper in the confectionery industry.

However, the Plastic Soup Foundation, for example, has accused Nestlé, Unilever (in eighth place in Sigwatch’s top 10 most criticised brands) and Coca-Cola (ninth) of backing “false solutions” to plastics waste and called out Coca-Cola and Nestlé as two of the top three contributors to marine plastic pollution.

In research conducted by Break Free From Plastic last year, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé were found to be the most frequent companies identified in 239 litter clean-ups and brand audits spanning 42 countries and six continents.

There was better news for Hilton in the Sigwatch data: the hotel group was the second most praised company in the past quarter thanks to its commitment to source 100% of its eggs (shell, liquid, and egg products) globally from cage-free sources. Unilever was also recognised for its action on animal welfare.