Special Report

20 Corporations Behind the Most Ocean Pollution


To determine the corporations behind the most ocean pollution, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed information about the different sources of pollution: plastic pollution; runoff from agricultural pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers; and greenhouse gas emissions.

For the primary company sources of plastics pollution, we used a 2018 study of plastic garbage collected in 42 countries and catalogued by Greenpeace and the Break Free From Plastics movement. For the primary sources of greenhouse gases — oil, gas, and coal companies responsible for the most greenhouse-gas emissions — we reviewed data from 2017’s Carbon Majors Database from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a UK-base charity encouraging carbon emissions reporting. The database considered data from 2015. A 2018 report from the international nonprofit organization GRAIN and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a non-profit focused on environmental sustainability, provided the largest meat and dairy companies that release the most greenhouse gas emissions. We used a 2018 report from Agrow, an agribusiness intelligence company, to find the biggest producers of agricultural chemicals based on sales, which is how we determined the largest polluters in the industry.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provided background on so-called nonpoint source pollution, the ocean pollution that comes from runoff from vehicular oil leaks, farms, and ranches.