‘Dozens of dirty businesses’ are flooding UK beaches with named plastic waste

Amid a wave of anger at water companies and government over sewage and other pollutants entering UK’s deteriorating waterways, new research has revealed the scale of plastic litter entering the sea around Britain.

Nearly 4,000 citizen science volunteers across the UK have collected branded items over 13,000 miles over the past 12 months to expose the 12 most polluting companies.

Volunteers found almost 30,000 pieces of plastic waste along the coast, a third of which were tagged and linked to more than 250 different companies.

However, the research found that the top three polluters, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and McDonald’s, are responsible for producing 39% of all brand pollution found.

This is the third year in a row that Coca-Cola has taken the top spot, the study commissioned by campaign group Surfers Against Sewage reveals.

“Together, the worst offenders produce staggering amounts of plastic,” said Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage. The Independent.

“Despite some of their rhetoric about cuts [to plastic waste]the scale of their markets means they continue to grow their business, which means they continue to increase their plastic footprint.

“This is evident on beaches and in the environment in the UK and around the world.”

He added: “Coca-Cola taking the top spot for the third year in a row shows that despite the ‘Blue Planet Effect’ in 2017, and all the attention given to it, we still haven’t gotten the crisis in the air under control. plastic pollution.

The worst ‘Dirty Dozen’ plastic polluters on UK beaches in 2022 are:

1. Coca-Cola

2. PepsiCo


4. Anheuser-Busch InBev

5. Mondelez International

6. Nestle


8.Red Bull GmbH

9. story of the sun

10. Carlsberg Group

11. Heineken Holding

12th of March

To highlight the rampant pollution ravaging the environment and the ocean, Surfers Against Sewage commissioned a 100m x 400m projection of packaging waste piled up against the white cliffs of Dover.

A huge splash on the White Cliffs of Dover of waste from companies that make the single-use plastic found on UK beaches

(Surfers against sewage)

The organization is calling for an “all-inclusive” deposit return system, which would see consumers pay an initial deposit on the products, refunded when the plastic container is returned. Deposit refund systems are already used effectively across Europe and enjoy high rates of return.

Mr Tagholm said ‘we still haven’t gotten the right materials and we still don’t have a deposit system’.

“We were calling for an all-inclusive deposit system. By the way, that alone would save around 55% of all the plastic we found through the audit, as a lot of it is bottles and plastic beverage containers. Just one really well-designed circular economy intervention that captures plastic and contains it in the economy rather than on our beaches can have a massive dramatic effect. The government needs to act fast on this.

The audit found that tobacco products accounted for more than 15% of all registered pollution and that more than a quarter of all registered unbranded pollution was cigarette butts.

Cigarette pollution is extremely damaging to soil and beaches, with the vast majority of cigarette butts being made from single-use plastic and containing hundreds of toxic chemicals when smoked, the report warned.

Dr Christian Dunn, Lecturer in Natural Sciences at Bangor University, said: “This research shows that the environmental catastrophe of plastic pollution shows no signs of abating, because once again the same companies are responsible. of most of the litter found on our beaches and streets.

“It is rather depressing that despite all the evidence provided over the years by SAS and its fantastic team of citizen scientists, these companies still do not have the problem under control. “There must be a shared responsibility among all; government, producers and consumers if we are to seriously tackle the problem.”

A Coca-Cola spokesperson said, “We share the goal of eliminating plastic waste from the environment and recognize that The Coca-Cola Company has a responsibility to help solve this problem.

“This has been the driving force in establishing our ‘world without waste’ goals, and as we continue to make progress against these goals, we challenge ourselves to do more.

“Today, all of our packaging is 100% recyclable, and our goal is to recover more of it so that it can be recycled and turned back into new packaging.

“It is disappointing to see packaging thrown away and that is why we fully support the introduction of a well-designed deposit system, which we know from results in other countries will encourage people to recycle, rather than toss or discard.”

A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “Over 90% of the packaging we use comes from recycled or renewable sources and can be recycled.

“As a company, we are committed to sourcing renewable and recyclable materials for all of our packaging by 2025.

“We remain committed to finding innovative ways to solve the packaging waste problem and are testing a number of initiatives to help reduce waste.”

The spokesperson said earlier this year the company launched a campaign to conduct litter pick-ups in local areas, which also called on customers to do their part by not littering in the first place. .

A PepsiCo UK spokesperson said The Independent“Protecting the planet is really important to us and we share people’s concerns about waste. That’s why we’ve supported the Great British Spring Clean for four years and all our packaging is labeled with messages encouraging responsible disposal and, where possible, recycling of packaging.

“Our vision is to build a world where packaging never becomes waste, as we defined in our strategic transformation plan, PepsiCo Positive. We are committed to reducing the plastic we use across our portfolio – for example, earlier this year we announced plans to eliminate fossil-based virgin plastic in all crisps and snack bags, delivered using 100% recycled or renewable content in all packages by 2030. We also believe deposit systems can provide an essential source of clean, high-quality recycling, which is why we continue to support well designed.

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC), said The Independent“CMBC, as part of the Carlsberg Group, takes sustainability very seriously and we are adamant that our products should never end up in the wild.

“To avoid waste, we have just launched our new Together Towards Zero and Beyond ESG program, which commits us to achieving new and improved sustainability goals. This includes a new ambition to achieve zero packaging waste, with concrete targets to achieve a 90% recycling rate on our bottles and cans and make 100% of our packaging recyclable, reusable or renewable by 2030.

“CMBC are working hard to prepare to support Scotland’s deposit return system when it begins in 2023 and we expect it to be seen across the UK in the future. This move will be key to the achievement of our ambitions.

“We have taken positive steps to reduce plastic waste through innovations such as our Snap Pack packaging. Snap Pack reduces our use of secondary plastic packaging by up to 76% compared to our previous format, and subsequently reduces the risk of plastic ending up in nature.

Additional reports by agencies.

Bryce K. Locke