Ocean Plastics

Surfers Against Sewage #ReturnToOffender campaign exposes top 12 plastic polluters

written by Oceanographic Staff

UK marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) has released the results of its #ReturnToOffender digital clean-up campaign, revealing the UK’s top 12 plastic polluters.

The 12 have been dubbed ‘The Dirty Dozen’, and are responsible for 56% of UK plastic and packaging pollution, with Coca-Cola remaining to be the worst polluter out of 207 brands, responsible for 15% of the plastic waste recorded. Tied in second place, each responsible for 6%, was Lucozade Energy, Walkers Crisps and Pepsi.

#ReturnToOffender Surfers Against Sewage The Dirty Dozen

The goal of the #ReturnToOffender campaign was to challenge big brands on the volume of plastic and packaging pollution found on beaches and other wild spaces. Thousands of people around the UK took part, documenting the branded plastic and packaging pollution they found during their isolated outdoor activity during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

“Anti-littering campaigns will be set for further failure unless the root causes of plastic pollution are addressed through a radical change in our approach to materials and recycling systems,” said Amy Slack, Head of Campaigns at SAS. “Big business continues to put profits ahead of preventing plastic pollution and we urge them to deliver fast and meaningful action today to protect the planet.”

#ReturnToOffender Surfers Against Sewage The Dirty DozenMore than 30 brands responded directly to public messages, nine of which were part of the ‘dirty dozen’. Despite some brands highlighting the action they were taking to reduce their plastic production, the majority of responses laid blame with the general public, without taking into account the systemic and plastic reduction strategies that businesses need to adopt to protect the environment and finite resources.

The plastic pollution crisis is having a devastating impact on British rivers, ocean and countryside, and destroying delicate ecosystems and killing marine wildlife all over the world. SAS is demanding a reduction of the production and consumption of single-use plastics, as well as an ‘all in’ comprehensive Deposit Return Scheme and Extended Producer Responsibility by 2023 to ensure manufactures are responsible for 100% of the costs of their plastic waste management. 

To read the full results of the #ReturnToOffender campaign, click here.

Photograph by Craig Holmes, courtesy of Surfers Against Sewage via Facebook.

For more from our Ocean Newsroom, click here or on one of the images below:

Printed editions

Current issue

Back issues

Enjoy so much more from Oceanographic Magazine by becoming a subscriber.
A range of subscription options are available.