Anti-Plastic Spending in the United States - Part 1
While there is no publicly available information to answer to exact details for each company on what was spent on anti-plastic advertising and advocacy, we were able to identify some details that may be of value. Below is an outline of the research strategies to better understand why the information requested is publicly unavailable, as well as a deep dive into the findings that were available and could prove beneficial.
CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW
- Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) is a not-for-profit environmental law firm founded to strengthen international and comparative environmental law and policy around the world. The main areas that the organization focuses on are climate, forests, toxins, and plastics, among others.
- For their fiscal year ending June 2018, CIEL spent a total of $284 on advertising and promotion. $204 went to program service expenses while $80 went to management and general expenses.
- In their fiscal year ending June 2017, the organization spent $2,600 in total on advertising and promotion where $2,470 was for program service expenses and $13 was for management and general expenses.
STORY OF STUFF
- Story of Stuff is an organization that creates awareness about how we have too much stuff and that most of it is toxic. Therefore, it is involved in several campaigns to help save our climate and environment, as a whole.
- According to Facebook Ads, Story of Stuff has spent $1,017 on adverts between May 2018 and August 2019.
- In their tax filings for the year ending December 2017, Story of Stuff stated to have spent $0 on advertising and promotion.
GLOBAL ALLIANCE FOR INCINERATOR ALTERNATIVES
- This organization has three main initiatives which are to promote zero-waste, reduce problematic waste streams like plastic, and put an end to the ineffective and hazardous practice of burning waste.
- Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives recorded in their tax filings for the financial year ending March 2018 to have spent $1,089 in advertising and promotions; $924 was for program service expenses and $165 was for management and general expenses.
- In their financial year ending March 2017, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives spent $1,147 in advertising and promotions.
- Greenpeace USA is an organization that uses not only peaceful protests but also creative communication to try to increase awareness on the world's biggest environmental problems as well as try to find solutions.
- Greenpeace does not only advocate for anti-plastic, but it also addresses all the problems revolving around environmental problems. However, plastic pollution is addressed under their campaign to protect oceans as well as marine life.
- According to Facebook Ads, Greenpeace USA has spent $831,754 on Ads between May 2018 and August 2019 with $45,829 of the money having been spent in just one week (11th-17th Aug 2019).
- As per the Greenpeace 2017 form 990, the organization spent $703,976 in advertising and promotion in 2017.
- Just like Greenpeace, Oceana has several campaigns to help save (preserve and restore) oceans. Responsible fishing which is meant for an issue such as protecting dolphins from indiscriminate fishing gear is one of the campaigns. Ending the use of plastic is also on their list of campaigns.
- Between May 2018 and August 2019, Oceana has spent a total of $312,233 on advertising with $1,480 of that money having been spent between 11th and 17th August 2019.
- As of December 2017, Oceana recorded in their tax filings to have spent a total of $834,444 on advertising and promotion. This total was broken down to $713,320 on program service expenses, $48,536 on management and general expenses and $72,588 on fundraising expenses.
BREAK FREE FROM PLASTIC CAMPAIGN
- Break Free From Plastic movement was started in September 2016 and according to Ad library, it has spent less than or equal to $100 on adverts between May 2018 to August 2019.
PLASTIC POLLUTION CAMPAIGN
- Plastic Pollution Coalition is a project of the Earth Island Institute.
- As of June 2018, Earth Island Institute recorded in their tax filing to have spent $94,156 on advertising and promotion. Moreover, as of June 2017, the organization spent $107,854 on advertising.
U.N. CLEAN SEAS CAMPAIGN
- The UN Environment launched the clean seas campaign in February 2017.
After an extensive search, there were no available databases, articles, blogs, or any publications out there that had insights on how much the companies spent advocating/advertising on anti-plastic campaigns/initiatives. The research team reviewed annual reports, Facebook library Ads, Propublica resources to find the companies' expenses and revenues knowing that would help to find how much the companies spent on advertising and promotions. We were able to find how much some of the companies spent on advertising and promotion in 2017, 2018 and between May 2018-August 2019.
It should be noted that most of the annual reports and tax filing forms located had information on the companies' spending on advertising and promotions but none of them narrowed down how much was specifically spent on anti-plastic campaigns. Moreover, in some reports, the companies' fiscal years were ending in either June or March and not in December which normally marks the end of the year, so strict yearly breakdowns were not available in most instances. Also, the Facebook Ad library provided information on how much the companies spent between May 2018 and August 2019. We attempted to triangulate the information to get how much was specifically spent in 2018. For example, we divided the amount of money Greenpeace spent on Ads between May 2018 and August 2019 with the number of months in that period (16) to get the approximate amount spent on Ads per month ($831,745/16) which would be approximately $51,985; then use this amount to calculate how much Greenpeace roughly spent on Ads per year ($51985*12). But this wouldn't be accurate because $45,829 of the money Greenpeace USA spent on Ads between May 2018 and August 2019 was spent in just a week (11th-17th Aug 2019). Therefore, there was no formula we could use to triangulate the answers and specifically narrow down how much the companies spent in 2017 and 2018.
Also, the team could not locate how much the Plastic Pollution Coalition spent on advertising in 2017 and 2018, but since it is a project of the Earth Island Institute, we went ahead and found out the amount the Institute spent on adverts. In addition to this, we, unfortunately, could not find any source stating how much the UN Clean Seas campaign has spent on advertising and advocacy since it was launched.