Updated: Apr 3
The marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) launch their Brand Audit Report today, after conducting the UK’s biggest coordinated beach clean event. Over 50,000 volunteers took part in 600 cleans, covering 350,000 miles in total over the Million Mile flagship week.
The beach cleans and resulting report reveal that two thirds of the UK's plastic and packaging pollution can be traced back to just 12 polluting companies, aka. THE DIRTY DOZEN: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Anheuser-Bush InBev, McDonalds, Mondelez International, Heineken, Tesco, Carlsberg Group, Suntory, Haribo, Mars and Aldi.
SAS believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the type and volume of items recorded during this year’s Brand Audit. Stella Artois and Budweiser cans made their way into the top ten most polluting brands, leading to their parent company Anheuser-Bush InBev rising up the ‘Dirty Dozen’ leader-board to third place (they were 8th in 2019). This surge is most likely due to the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants during consecutive lockdowns. Similarly, plastic and glass bottles and cigarette butts - primarily made up of plastic filters that don’t biodegrade - accounted for just under half (48%) of unbranded pollution. However, SAS have a plan of action!
They will be urging the UK government to introduce an ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme for all drinks containers of all sizes and materials, not just limited to small containers classified as ‘on-the-go’. They will also call on the big brands identified in the Report to act now by reducing packaging and switching to refill models, and asking them to tell the public their targets and timelines for plastic reduction. Ultimately, SAS aim is to enact lasting change in the form of:
1. Legislation that ends the production and consumption of non-essential single-use polluting plastics
2. Legislation that ensures effective resource use and waste management
3. Business models within companies that are focused on reduction and reuse
4. A shift in narrative away from traditional recycling models and towards reduction and alternative use for single use plastics.
You can read the full Brand Audit Report here and share the Surfers Against Sewage campaign on social media, using the hashtags #DirtyDozen #ReturnToOffender #PlasticPollution #ClimateCrisis #OceanConservation