FMCGs are the brands most criticised by NGOs due to their procrastination on plastics

Finance and energy companies taken to task over coal 

FMCGs (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) dominate a new top ten of corporations most criticised by activist groups (NGOs) in Q2 this year, with Nestlé the most criticised brand by far. NGOs see Nestlé, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and Coca Cola as dragging their heels on the plastic packaging issue, which has them making the latest ‘ten most criticised firms’ ranking from NGO tracking and issues analysis consultancy SIGWATCH.  Other companies coming under fire include energy companies and finance firms, a result of their continued allegiance to fossil fuels.

Nestlé has topped the NGO most criticised rankings since the start of the year.  Last quarter it attracted more than double the amount of NGO disapproval than the number two most reproached brand Johnson & Johnson.  One NGO, Plastic Soup Foundation, accuses Nestlé, Unilever (in 8th place) and Coca-Cola (9th) of backing “false solutions” to plastics waste and calls out Coca Cola and Nestlé as two of the top three contributors to marine plastic pollution.

“Two years ago, plastic pollution had barely registered on the public consciousness. Today it is a major public concern, attracting consumer attention, media column inches, and government legislation.”

Robert Blood, Founder & Managing Director, SIGWATCH

“However, in the eyes of NGOs, corporates’ current efforts on plastics don’t go far enough. In particular, Greenpeace and its allies are disappointed that big business is focusing on recycling rather than reduced use, and Nestlé is being made an example of, to encourage the others to step up. NGOs are hoping for a Domino Effect – spur one major brand into action and the others will follow by default.”

Two Japanese banks, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group, also find themselves on the most criticised list. They come under attack for financing coal power, notably the controversial Van Phong 1 coal power station in Vietnam. World Bank Group is the fifth most criticised brand, accused of “quietly bankrolling” Indonesian coal mining companies, while Adani Group is at number ten on account of its controversial Carmichael coalmine project in Queensland, Australia.

In contrast, financial institutions that are rejecting fossil fuels are rewarded with a place on the NGO ten most praised list. AXA, Allianz and QBE Insurance Group are commended for taking steps to stop financing coal, in particular for refusing to finance the Adani Carmichael coal project.  

SIGWATCH – a global research and strategy consultancy specialising in understanding NGOs (activist groups) and the impact of their campaigns on corporate reputation and social responsibility – has been compiling quarterly rankings of brands most praised and most criticised by NGOs for three years. The latest rankings are based on its monitoring of more than 9,000 NGOs and a total of 1,694 campaign actions over the previous three months.


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