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Demanding Corporate Accountability For Plastic Pollution 

By Mei Kuan

The Break Free From Plastic Movement (#breakfreefromplastic) is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in 2016, more than 11,000 organisations and individual supporters from across the world have joined the cause—including the local non-profit organisation, Trash Hero Ipoh

Break Free From Plastic’s brand audit—an annual citizen action initiative that involves counting and documenting the brands on plastic waste found in communities across the globe—recorded a collection of 346,494 pieces of plastic from 55 countries this year.

Its report titled, “BRANDED Vol III: Demanding Corporate Accountability for Plastic Pollution” was released worldwide yesterday (December 2) via a virtual press conference.

NorHazira Jalik, founder of Trash Hero Ipoh which contributed data for this year’s brand audit, explained how it is performed, “The first step is to collect all trash during a clean-up or collection effort. After weighing, we segregate the collected trash by type and brand. Then we proceed to fill up the data form for submission to the Break Free From Plastic Movement.”

The data were gathered from a beach clean-up initiated by Trash Hero Ipoh in September at Pantai Pasir Panjang in Manjung. Made possible by almost 100 volunteers, the initiative was held in collaboration with another NGO, Friends of Nature Activists Society (Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam – KUASA). 

“We’d like to express our gratitude to participating volunteers from tertiary institutions such as Mara Professional College Sri Iskandar, UniKL and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. We were equally grateful for the public participation from all ages including families and children,” NorHazira, fondly known as Ira, told Ipoh Echo.

“In view of the pandemic, we safely coordinated one clean-up at the beach in September for the brand audit. Next year, hopefully, we would be able to contribute data from January till December to the year-long movement,” the Ipoh girl added.

Interested readers who would like to get involved can visit the Trash Hero Ipoh Facebook page or its website: trashhero.org. One can also email to trashheroipoh@gmail.com or call 012 5982622.

The brand audit is aimed to shift the focus back to the companies that are responsible for creating the problem in the first place, and empower communities to demand that the production of unnecessary throwaway plastics be stopped.

According to Abigail Aguilar, Plastics Campaign Regional Coordinator of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, multinationals must end their dependency on single-use plastic packaging and move away from fossil fuels in order to combat climate change.

The global movement serves as a call for multinational corporations to take full responsibility for the externalised cost of their single-use plastic products, such as the costs of waste collection, treatment and the environmental damage caused by them. 

The full brand audit report 2020 can be downloaded here.

To learn more of the global movement, visit www.breakfreefromplastic.org.

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Tan Mei Kuan

Tan Mei Kuan graduated with first-class honours and book prize from University of Malaya majoring in languages and linguistics (English). She is proficient in both written and spoken English and Malay. She is also conversant in Mandarin and has knowledge of Japanese and Korean languages. Mei Kuan has been on the Dean’s List for three years running. Having written for the campus newspaper and residential college magazine, joining Ipoh Echo has helped utilise her writing and language skills. In her spare time she enjoys running (races).

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