(Amy Scaife/Greenpeace)

Nestle, Tim Hortons, McDonald’s named some of Canada’s top plastic polluters

A Greenpeace Canada audit, which inolved shoreline cleanups in Tofino and Vancouver, found nearly half of 2,300 pieces of plastic came from five major companies.

As volunteers worked to clean up five shorelines across Canada in September, a majority of the plastic garbage could be traced back to five major companies – including one hailed by some as a national emblem.

Greenpeace Canada hosted its Break Free From Plastic audit last month, which totalled 239 cleanups around the world including in Tofino, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.

A total of 2,231 pieces of identifiable trash was collected, according to Sarah King, head of Greenpeace Canada’s oceans and plastics campaign.

Of the trash, 46 per cent came from Nestle, Tim Hortons, PepsiCo., Coca-Cola Company and McDonald’s products.

Black Press Media has reached out to each company for comment.

READ MORE: Is Canada losing its love for Tim Hortons?

WATCH: Hundreds of volunteers clean up shores of B.C. beach

In a news release, King said it’s not surprising to her that large conglomerates made the top five list, given the “billions” of single-use plastic packaged products under each brand.

“Pop and water bottles, rogue bottle caps, Lay’s chip bags, Kit Kat and Coffee Crisp bar wrappers; chances are that any cleanup conducted will reveal plastic pollution associated with these companies,” she said.

King also pointed to Tim Horton’s “infamous” throwaway coffee cups. Plastic-lined drink cups were the third most common type of plastic item found, she said, after plastic bottles. Tim Hortons, McDonald’s and Starbucks were the main contributors.

“… It’s no wonder that the prevalence of these cups at our cleanup and audit locations landed this company in the second top polluter spot in Canada,” she said. “I wonder what Sidney Crosby and other hockey players think about their face being on those cups now?”


In a emailed statement, a Tim Hortons spokesperson said they recognize everyone has a responsibility to limit environmental impacts on the planet.

“That’s why Tim Hortons is actively working on a packaging strategy that includes the function, design and environmental footprint,” the statement reads.

McDonald’s Canada said that while the vast majority of its packaging is fiber-based, approximately 20 percent globally is plastic, mainly due to the functionality, food safety, and convenience it provides. Earlier this year, McDonalds announced goals to source fully from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025.

“We understand that recycling infrastructure, regulations and consumer behaviors vary from city to city and country to country, but we plan to be part of the solution and help influence powerful change,” it said.

Meanwhile, the top plastic found came in the form of colourful food wrappers.

PepsiCo said its working with experts and investing in bringing the latest sustainable packaging advances to market.

“We are committed to achieving 100 [per cent] recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging by 2025,” a spokesperson told Black Press Media.

King said a large number of products from other well-known companies were found during the cleanups, including The Hershey Company, Loblaw Companies Ltd., Danone, Costco Wholesale Corporation and Metro Inc.


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