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European Food Companies Break Their Plastics Promises

The French food giant Danone made an ambitious promise back in 2008: Within one year, 50% of the plastics used in the company's water bottles would be made from recycled materials. Danone's sustainability report called the measure "a lever for reducing packaging weight and decreasing CO2 emissions."

It would have been a step in the right direction in the fight against global plastics pollution. Plastic is not only one of the main products made from fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas: It's also one of the most enduring. Plastic bottles, for example, can take up to 450 years to break down. The resulting pieces of microplastics harm animals and humans alike — polluting oceans, soil and even the air. And the food and drink industry is one of the biggest plastics polluters in the world.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 79 million tons of plastic waste were released into the environment through terrestrial or aquatic leakage, open-pit burning or dumpsites in 2019. That represents over one-fifth of the global total.