Eco-Living Magazine

The Top 9 Most Polluting Companies

Posted on the 18 December 2020 by Ecoexperts @TheEcoExperts
The Top 9 Most Polluting Companies

Living sustainably is fast becoming a household priority - with a quarter of Brits now believing the environment is the UK's most important issue.

Unfortunately, whilst many of us work hard to cut down our own carbon footprint, there are still some companies out there pumping emissions into the atmosphere and tossing plastic into our oceans like there's no tomorrow.

So who are the top offenders? Just how much are these companies polluting the planet? And, most importantly, are they doing anything to turn things around? Let's take a look.

What's on this page?


Our two primary sets of data are from the Climate Accountability Institute and the Break Free From Plastic annual audit. These datasets have helped us narrow down which companies are creating the most emissions and dumping the most plastic waste around the globe.

We then calculated the emissions per capita, which is based on the size of the company, rather than focusing on the total damage done. This means that a company's habits won't just come down to the scale of its operations.

As companies become more polluting, they tend to be on the receiving end of public criticism - leading some businesses to be a bit hazy when discussing their green credentials. As you'll see further down, company sustainability reports don't always reflect reality.

Rank Company Billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent since 1965 Approximate number of employees Tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per capita Data from various sites, including The Guardian, The Climate Accountability Institute, Statista, and company annual reports

Despite this acknowledgement, not only is the company clogging the skies with CO2, but it's also spent decades spreading disinformation about climate change. According to The Guardian, Peabody Energy has funded at least two dozen groups that cast doubt on manmade climate change and oppose environmental regulations. Like most things in life, the end goal of this was - you guessed it - money.

In an attempt to redeem itself, Peabody restored nearly one acre for every acre disturbed during mining in 2019. But is this really enough to make up for the devastation being caused? We're not so sure.

8. National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC)

This once-thriving province of Khuzestan has been transformed into a wasteland, where the skies are smeared with pollution and dust storms continuously encroach towns.

The cause? Iran's production of 4 million barrels of oil per day, and the flaring of around 39 million cubic metres of gas across the country. However, when people started to point fingers at the company for its impact on the toxic air pollution levels, Bijan Aalipour, director of the National Iranian South Oil Company (a subsidiary of NIOC), said:

The top plastic polluting companies

Environmental organisation Break Free From Plastic conducted a study across 55 countries, collecting 346,494 pieces of plastic waste. In total, 63% of items were marked with a clear consumer brand - but which were the top offenders?

Company Examples of products Number of countries plastic was found in Pieces of plastic found

Colgate Palmolive

Colgate Palmolive
Colgate, Ajax, Palmolive



Colgate Palmolive

  • Aiming to eliminate one third of 'New Plastics' by 2025
  • Cutting the amount of toothbrush plastic waste in half by 2025

These are the only two points on plastic in Colgate's sustainability report - its report also shows that its plastic packaging has increased year on year, from 249,570 tonnes in 2017, to 275,440 in 2019.


Unfortunately, Perfetti's last public sustainability report was released in 2016, so we're unsure whether any progress has been made on shrinking the company's plastic footprint. Its website states the following:

  • Aims to deliver optimal packaging solutions that protect the product on its way to the end user with the least environmental impact
  • Working to optimise the weight and volume of packaging in the overall product life cycle


While this article paints quite a bleak picture, it's not all bad. Companies of all shapes and sizes are now looking to go carbon neutral not only to help the environment, but to seem more appealing to employees.

It's important to remember that, as a consumer, you do have the power to change the future of these polluting companies. As more people switch to renewable energy, cut down on plastic, and live a little more sustainably, these polluting companies will have no choice but to change their habits to stay on trend.

Beth Howell Writer

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