In the fizzling drama of the plastic pollution debacle, it appears that Coke and Pepsi are the ones popping their tops as the prime perpetrators. A recent study, hot off the press in Science Advances, spills the beans on the true culprits behind this ecological fizz.

Researchers reached this conclusion after volunteers analyzed data from over 1,500 litter surveys across 84 countries between 2018 and 2022.

Their mission? To sift through the debris littering parks, beaches, and streets, tallying up a whopping 1.8 million pieces of plastic pollution. And guess who emerged as the stars of this plastic-strewn show? You guessed it – Coca-Cola and Pepsi, sipping away at the top spot, responsible for a staggering 16% of branded plastic waste worldwide (Cola-Cola 11% and Pepsi 5%).

Nestlé (3%), Danone (3%), and Altria (2%), the tobacco titan, also joined the ranks of plastic- pushing villains in this fizzy fiasco.

These five corporate heavyweights were found guilty of churning out nearly a quarter of all the branded plastic pollution documented globally during this five-year study.

And here’s the kicker: a good chunk of the trash didn’t even come dressed with brand labels, meaning the true extent of corporate culpability could be even fizzier.

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Food and beverage giants, in particular, were caught red-handed in the study, their single-use packaging and grab-and-go goodies posing a disproportionate threat to our planet. That fleeting soda bottle or candy wrapper you toss aside after a mere sip or bite? Yeah, that’s the real troublemaker, much more so than that trusty laundry detergent bottle that sticks around for weeks or months.

According to the researchers, it’s time for the bigwigs like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Nestlé to put a cap on their plastic addiction and embrace alternative packaging solutions.