PUPILS URGE MICHAEL GOVE TO INCLUDE ALL BOTTLES IN DEPOSIT RETURN SCHEME

Damers First School students meeting Michael Gove

 

POWER TO THE PUPILS!

Yesterday the incredible pupils of Damers First School in Dorchester met with the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove outside Westminster Abbey to call for an ‘ALL IN’ drinks bottle deposit return scheme (DRS).

The students were invited to take part in the event, organised by our fellow campaigners the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), because of the huge amount of work they have been doing to tackle avoidable plastic pollution in their school and wider community.

Damers First School, were one of the first schools to complete our Plastic Free Schools programme. A key task within the programme is for students to write letters to their MP with evidence of their work and a call for stronger legislation. It is wonderful to see their voice being heard – and listened to – by Michael Gove.

GOLDEN (PLASTIC BOTTLE) RULES

The pupils ‘GOLDEN RULES MANIFESTO’ poster challenged the Mr Gove to ensure that ALL bottles regardless of shape, size or material to be recycled as part of the Government’s plans for the introduction of a deposit return scheme across England.

Plastic Bottle Floating in Ocean

A plastic bottle floats on the surface of the sea. Plastic breaks down into tiny pieces that enter the food chain, endangering wildlife and human health.

The students called for the scheme to be “ALL IN” – covering drinks containers of all sizes and materials. This matches our own stance exactly, as the lesser option would mean that 58% of the containers that we find at SAS beach cleans would NOT be included in the scheme…….

…….and we’re glad to hear that the Environment Secretary agrees with us;

“That makes perfect sense to me”Mr Gove told them.

Maddy Haughton-Boakes of CPRE said: “And now he [Mr Gove] has a golden opportunity to do the right thing and make sure England, and the children from Damers, have a litter-free future.”

PLASTIC FREE SCHOOLS

Plastic Free Schools is a pupil lead education programme that equips and empowers young activists with the tools and opportunities to create positive, lasting change in their own ways. Damers First School is a perfect example of the what can happen if we give #POWERTOTHEPUPILS!

REGISTER FOR PLASTIC FREE SCHOOLS TODAY!

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Solving the plastic pollution crisis requires focus on another ‘R’ — responsibility

By emphasizing recyclability and recycling over reduction and elimination of plastic waste, major companies are still ducking their responsibility to tackle plastic pollution.

The problem with plastic is not new. For decades the plastics and packaging industry has combined with food and beverages companies to frame it as a “litter” problem. Individuals littering are the problem, and it’s the responsibility of individuals to fix it. Public concern is effectively funneled to “clean-up” events, while industry lobbyists successfully weaken and postpone any policies that effectively would limit the growth of plastic. As a textbook example of how to effectively avoid responsibility for the ever-increasing amounts of single-use plastic, it has been a huge success. But it has been a disaster for the planet, resulting in a plastic pollution crisis.

What’s new is that this slow-burning crisis has leapt beyond environmental concerns to hit the headlines in many countries. Despite the flurry of negative stories, the playbook suggested by those really responsible remains the same: “more recyclable packaging,” “more recycling” and “voluntary targets.” Despite all the evidence that recycling is not the answer, it’s still pushed as the first priority. Only 9 percent of all the plastic ever made has been recycled. Most of that is downcycling to low-grade plastics. Even when effectively collected, a high portion of plastic packaging is impossible to recycle. Like the convenience of plastic packaging, pushing recycling first is convenient for avoiding responsibility.

Who is responsible?

In order to find out where the plastic packaging actually comes from, I started by looking at the contents of my own plastic recycling bin for two weeks. I live in the Netherlands, which has a long established bottle deposit scheme, plastic bag tax and plastics recycling scheme for most homes, partially funded by a producer responsibility levy.

Despite these measures, I still had 147 items of single-use plastic in my recycling bin. Forty came from supermarkets and 52 from named companies; the rest were unbranded plastics. That means of the roughly 3,800 pieces of plastic entering my home each year, over 60 percent comes from consumer goods companies and supermarkets.

The #breakfreefromplastic campaign has done this on a global scale with global audits of plastic pollution. For the last two years, volunteers have organized hundreds of plastic pollution cleanup events and audited what they collect, to create a unique insight into exactly which companies are most responsible. Of 147,000 pieces of plastic collected in 2018, the biggest polluters are Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Danone, Mondelez International, P&G, Unilever, Perfetti van Melle, Mars and Colgate-Palmolive, according to the organization.

 

Prioritize reduction and reuse over recycling

Tackling plastic pollution requires dramatic reductions in quantities of single-use packaging and focusing product design and changing business models to increase reuse. Any company skipping straight to recycling as the solution is ignoring proven waste reduction strategies in favor of failed non-solutions. Fixing the broken take-make-waste consumption model will require much more than incremental increases in recycling.

Major multinationals have played a major role in creating this crisis. Chasing market expansion and maximizing profits with single-use plastics as the go-to solution. In developing countries, Nestle, P&G and Unilever created the sachet economy using packaging they knew was impossible to recycle, inevitably creating a new type of waste. Small sachets of soap, coffee and instant noodles are the biggest type of plastic pollution in many developing countries.

Unilever is at least belatedly starting to address the problem of sachets, but again the focus is on recycling only, not on expanding proven existing business models such as dispensers and reusable containers. This pattern of aggressively expanding new markets without having solutions for waste is repeating itself with Tetra Paks in Vietnam. Over 8 billion Tetra Paks are sold annually in Vietnam, but only a tiny portion are recycled as the recycling infrastructure has been overwhelmed by growth.

Avoiding regulation

In developed countries, food and drinks companies and the plastic industry have funded industry associations to continually lobby against regulation that requires full producer responsibility for packaging and to prevent solutions such as deposit bottle schemes being implemented or expanded.

Here in the Netherlands, a successful and popular bottle deposit scheme for large PET bottles has been consistently attacked for decades by industry lobby groups. These groups always push for voluntary waste reduction targets that are subsequently never met. The scheme has survived, but reusable hard PET bottles have been replaced by companies in favor of single-use PET deposit bottles, which are mostly destined for downcycling.

In 2018 a Dutch proposal for expanding deposit-return schemes to small plastic bottles and cans was defeated by intensive lobbying from the corporate sector and supermarkets on cost grounds. This is the standard industry lobby playbook in many countries: Delays and promises of voluntary improvement bury the inevitable failure. Rinse and repeat for the next political cycle.

The problem and who is responsible is clear. Here are the new 4 Rs of how companies and the plastics industry can take responsibility to really be part of the solution:

  1. Radical transparency: Exactly how much plastic packaging is your organization responsible for?
  2. Reduce single-use plastic: State clear absolute reduction goals combined with regular progress reports.
  3. Redesign business models to promote reuse: How exactly are you promoting reuse and driving fast progress towards circular economy packaging?
  4. Responsible policy support: Show clear support for regulation to reduce plastic packaging and withdraw from industry groups that continue to delay, weaken or undermine required regulation.

Start with transparency

The first part of being a solution to a problem is taking responsibility for your part of the problem. For huge companies that sell billions of single-use plastic packaging that means being transparent about how much plastic they use, how much they sell and what happens to their plastic waste.

Unfortunately, none has fully disclosed in detail what plastics they consume, how much and where. Only Unilever publishes a partial plastics footprint. Nestlé, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo don’t even disclose how many plastic bottles they sell each year. Without dramatically improved transparency, it’s impossible to assess how seriously companies are taking the problem.

Reduction as top priority

Any credible waste strategy has to start with reducing the amount of waste.

Currently, the global plastics industry is building hundreds of new plants to increase global plastic production by 40 percent, all based on fossil fuels. Only if major customers get serious about reducing demand will these expansion plans be stopped.

Any company serious about tackling climate change also has to get serious about reducing its own use of fossil fuel-based plastics. Despite the plethora of corporate announcements in response to increased media scrutiny, hardly any even mention actual reductions, let alone put reduction first.

reuse recycle bottles

Shouldn’t ‘Please reuse’ come first?

New business models

The recently announced New Plastics Economy Global Commitment finally marks the start of a response that’s actually addressing the core of the problem.

Getting producers, packagers and big consumer goods companies to commit to hard reduction goals and introduce reusable packaging is a good start. However, the pace and scale of change needs to be faster and solutions that already exist need to be implemented at scale.

 Why are problematic multi-colored PET bottles still being used? Supermarkets right now can encourage reusable packaging by offering discounts to customers bringing reusable containers. That fast change only happens when companies are shamed into action by focused campaigns; it does not exactly inspire confidence that the biggest corporate producers of plastic waste are actually prioritizing real solutions.

U.K. supermarket chain Iceland’s move to ban all single-use plastic from its own branded products by 2023 shows that big change is possible, and it represents the level of ambition that other retailers and consumer goods companies need to follow.

Support responsible policy and regulation

There are almost too many examples to count of industry pledges, voluntary reduction promises and alike being used successfully to prevent effective waste reduction regulation, only for these promises and pledges to be broken.

As well as supporting initiatives such as the voluntary New Plastics Economy, major companies must show clear and unconditional support for ambitious regulation to reduce plastic pollution. That also requires cutting funding or membership ties to industry lobby groups aiming to weaken regulation.

Unfortunately, this does not appear to be happening. A recent leaked lobby letter reveals that even a simple measure to require drinks bottle caps to be attached to bottles in the European Union was opposed by Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Danone. Ironically, the lobby letter proposes bottle deposit schemes as a better solution, which these companies  also have lobbied to prevent being implemented in Belgium, France and Spain.

Coke, Nestle and Pepsi are all core partners of the New Plastics Economy. Unless these companies lead by example and stop opposing mandatory regulation to reduce plastic pollution, they remain part of the problem.

Tackling the plastic pollution crisis will require a complete switch away from the last 50 years of framing, funding and lobbying that created this crisis. Only companies clearly accepting their responsibility to radically reduce consumption of single-use plastic can be considered real leaders.

Article originally appeared in Greenbiz.

 

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“We don’t need this plastic” – what supermarket customers are telling us

This blog is by Ken Carroll, a Greenpeace volunteer in Southampton:

It may not be everyone’s idea of a good time. But the Sunday morning we spent outside a Sainsbury’s in Southampton sure felt good. I was there to join members of Greenpeace in raising awareness of the plastic waste problem. A survey conducted in 2018 by Greenpeace UK and the Environmental Investigation Agency exposed how UK supermarkets are adding to the problem. Ten major retailers alone are using over 810,000 tonnes of single-use plastic every year. Seven are contributing the equivalent of 59 billion pieces of plastic packaging. Supermarkets need to reduce plastic packaging.

To maintain pressure local Greenpeace groups across the UK are collecting shoppers’ unwanted plastic. And this is why we were there, standing outside that Sainsbury’s on that fresh Sunday morning. We were lucky with the weather. Bright blue skies and not too cold. Perfect conditions for some quality time outside. Lyn, our team lead, arrived on her bike carrying all the necessary kit.  Signage, bright green bibs, a cardboard box, staplers, clipboards, forms, and pens. Armed with smiles we set about talking to shoppers as they left the store. It was not long before we were all busy in meaningful discussions. Those we talked to were keen to open their bags and look for plastic. Happy to unwrap any plastic covered fruit and vegetables, sign a  petition, and pose for a photo. They had a good understanding of the plastic problem and the urgency. A common response was that plastic packaging was unnecessary. And were keen to do something to help influence the supermarket’s offerings.

Of course it was not long before we were attracting some attention. Two Sainsbury’s staff came out for a friendly chat. We explained the campaign and talked for a while. They were unwilling to provide an official comment. But as they returned to the store I sensed they, as individuals, had sympathy for the cause. It was a positive encounter. We stayed for a few more hours, engaging with a steady stream of shoppers. As we wrapped up (:-) it was good to reflect on some of the messages they left:

  • “We don’t need this plastic”  
  • “This is not necessary”
  • “Do they really need this?!”
  • “I didn’t need the bag”  
  • “My lunchboxes didn’t need to be wrapped in plastic”
  • “This is pointless plastic”    

The packaging included fruit and veg wrappings, wrapping around sets  of baked beans, and plastic wrapping around plastic lunch boxes!!! I learned a lot that morning outside Sainsbury’s. It’s fun to work together.  Every touch point matters. And it feels good to build relationships. By talking and sharing we get to see other perspectives. The bigger the picture we see, the greater the opportunities to create a positive impact. And in the right company, a Sunday morning in the cold outside Sainsbury’s can be a good time. I would recommend everyone to give it a go. And it will be what you make it.    

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Are you #GenerationSea?

Protesters march in support of the ocean (c) Shutterstock

#GenerationSea is a new movement we’re building to save and secure the future of our oceans and beaches.

If you join #GenerationSea you’ll be able to help us with a range of actions including signing and sharing petitions, contacting your MP, collecting evidence from shorelines and promoting the campaign on social media.

We’re seizing this unique moment in the UK to push for a bold new Environment Bill that will truly protect our seas and sands from threats like plastic pollution and the impacts of climate change.

Click Here To Join #GenerationSea

In the midst of historic change in the UK, our supporters have called for a new campaign movement to save the ocean.

In stormy, uncertain times, many of us find comfort in going to the beach. The fresh air revives us and the beauty inspires us. The everlasting waves can bring peace, perspective and a whole ton of stoke.

We’ve come so far over the last thirty years in cleaning up the ocean, campaigning to eradicate continuous sewage discharges, strengthening the Bathing Water Directive, driving real-time water quality information and protecting those using the sea.

Many improvements took place under the auspices of the European Union as a result of EU Directives, enforced when needed by the European Court of Justice with heavy fines. But our ocean still faces plastic pollution, climate change, sewage, habitat destruction and more

This year – unlike any other in recent memory – the UK will be rewriting the rules that protect our beaches and the sea. A new Environment Bill is planned, and it’s a once-in-a-generation new law that could be a ray of hope for our oceans. 

The new Environment Bill could set strong, binding targets to reduce plastic pollution, increase protected areas and tackle climate change. But there’s also a risk the Bill could end up weak and toothless, unless we put up a fight.

We believe we can build a powerful movement together which shows politicians that the sea is not out of sight or mind when new laws are being set or new business deals being made.  

We want future generations to know the fun and excitement of a living ocean, as we do. And to feel its freedom and power. Surfing in sparkling waves, exploring the colour and life in rock pools and running wild on vast, clean sands.

We want to gaze out to sea and know that life is thriving in the deep, not choking on plastic or struggling to survive climate change.

We can be the people who turned the tide, who drive a movement to protect ocean life for the generations to come. 

Click Here To Join #GenerationSea

What are we calling for?

This year is set to be historic for many reasons. The Environment Bill will make the statutory changes needed to protect and support the environment after the UK leaves Europe. We know that Generation Sea want strong action to be taken, so that the UK has an Environment Bill with real power to tackle the interests of big business and put in place a system that can tackle the problems at source.

What is the Environment Bill?

UK environmental principles and governance are currently covered by the European Union. Any action taken to protect the environment from destruction is done through the European Court of Justice.  The Environment Bill, to be agreed in 2019, will make the statutory changes needed to protect and support the environment after the UK leaves Europe. It will be a new approach and enshrine in law environmental principles and governance in four key areas: air, wildlife, water and waste.

What do we want people to do?

Go to our website and join up to #GenerationSea. You’ll be able to help us with a range of actions including signing and sharing petitions, contacting your MP, collecting evidence from shorelines and promoting the campaign on social media.

Click Here To Join #GenerationSea

 

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Where next for Surfers Against Sewage campaigns in 2019?

More than 4,197 supporters have completed the survey about our oceans. Thank you!  Your answers provide powerful evidence of our concerns about the health of the ocean. They show clearly the need for greater laws and regulation to conserve the ocean environment, so crucial to human health and wellbeing.

We have been overwhelmed by the response and inspired by the reasons why people want to protect our precious oceans. One SAS supporter Janice said its because the ocean is “good for the soul, essential for the planet” and we agree!

More than 97% of us said we would help to take action to secure a strong Environment Bill, with a range of actions including signing and sharing petitions, contacting their MP, collecting evidence from shorelines and promoting the campaign on social media.

We are all very aware of the political changes and chaos underway in the UK at the moment, but its clear we can do more together make everyone aware of the opportunity in 2019 with the new Environment Bill.

Overall we are not very optimistic about  the future of our oceans under current proposals, laws and regulations. More than 60% of us are not optimistic at all but its also interesting that a third are quite ‘quite optimistic’.

Ben Hewitt, Director of Campaigns and Projects at Surfers Against Sewage has analysed the information and said

“It’s clear that we are deeply concerned about the future of our oceans and want to be a part of a movement to save our seas. This is a truly unique group unified by a love for the ocean, beaches and sea life; and we want to be involved in a range of actions: from  tackling plastic pollution at the beach to holding decision makers and big business to account. This gives us a clear mandate for our campaigning  together in 2019”

Plastic Pollution is a leading concern for nearly half of us, and tackling climate change is the priority concern for 38%, but we are being seeing that these are interlinked with water quality and the need for fully protected ocean sanctuaries. The issues of deep sea mining, industrial fishing and chemical pollution are also concerns for many.

The survey revealed a deep connection with the sea, which drives our passion for taking action. Here are just some of the quotes we received:

“The overwhelming feeling of being part of a world greater than yourself” Alice

“Good for the soul, essential for the planet”  Janice

“It was, and should be again, a deep source, both literally and metaphorically, of wellbeing for all living things.” Adam

“It is freedom” Hayley

“It soothes my soul” Julie

We do believe that with a brand new Environment Bill due in the UK in 2019, our country has a chance – for the first time in a generation – to rewrite the rules that protect our beaches and seas. We know from the overwhelming response to the survey, that together we want to tackle this challenge with everything we’ve got. And that our community wants to be involved. So that’s what we’re going to do…

Take action in 2019 to help save our oceans.   Click Here to join #GenerationSea

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Small businesses urged to back fight against limit on plastic bottle deposit return scheme

Photo by Sam Breeze

Small businesses are being urged to get behind a call to back a new scheme that will give people money back for recycling plastic bottles and cans – of all sizes.

It comes after the Government revealed a new consultation today to overhaul the current waste and recycling system in the UK, including the proposed Deposit Return Scheme.

The proposal, part of the Resources and Waste Strategy, could follow other countries where shoppers pay a deposit on every bottle – such as 8p in Sweden or 22p in Germany.

However, within the consultation, the plans outlined that the scheme may only target drinks of less than 750ml, following claims from retail industry bosses that the focus should target ‘on-the-go’ products.

These claims dispute figures from Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), though, which indicate that a higher amount of plastic waste washing up on British shores are actually the larger plastic bottles.

Now SAS is calling on small businesses to sign an open letter to Environment Secretary Michael Gove calling for a simple and effective Deposit Return Scheme for all drinks bottles.

Ben Hewitt, Director of Campaigns at Surfers Against Sewage said “We are directly working with thousands of local businesses doing what they can to cut avoidable single-use plastic and we know there is a demand for a simple and effective recycling system for drinks containers. We want to make sure the voice of local businesses who sit at the heart of our communities is heard by the government.”

Local businesses can show support for an ‘all-in’ scheme by signing the SAS open letter to Michael Gove MP Here 

Surfers Against Sewage has warned that despite the stark evidence from our beaches, big industry is pushing for a watered-down scheme risking billions of plastic bottles ending up in our oceans.

The charity is calling for the UK Government to do the right thing for our seas and marine life and put in place a simple ‘all-in’ system without further delay.

The call backs research from October 2018, when the charity organised the largest ever survey of single-use drinks bottles found on 487 UK beaches and rivers – and volunteers measured 27,696 of these containers.

Of plastic bottles found, 58% were 750ml to extra-large (for example, two-litre party bottles).

But, despite this evidence, the British Retail Consortium, is calling for limits on the size of drinks containers and this request has been added to the governments consultation.

SAS is arguing that ‘all-in’ operations already in place in more than 30 countries world-wide have seen recycling rates reach as high as 98%, stopping billions of plastic bottles from escaping into rivers, beaches and seas. They also highlight that a scheme that includes all bottle sizes would be much simpler for the public to understand and, therefore, more successful.

Now, with more than 800 plastic free champion businesses already signed up, SAS says this is a chance for smaller local companies to have their voices heard within national government.

Following the announcement of the proposed strategy and concerns over the suggested limit on the scheme, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says it is clear that two options are being explored during the consultation – the ‘on the go’ or the ‘all in’ approach.

Michael Gove said: “We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. That’s why we are leading the way to move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society and drive up domestic recycling.

“Through our plans we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling.

“We are committed to cementing our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, so we can be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”

Local businesses can show support for an ‘all-in’ scheme by signing the SAS open letter to Michael Gove MP Here 

News Article written for Surfers Against Sewage by Hazel Murray

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EU threatens UK with legal action amid sewage spills off North East beach

The UK government is facing a potential court date after allegedly failing to comply with a European order over raw sewage being pumped into the sea from a North East beach.

One of the sources of overflows in question

The action from the EU follows concerns raised by a local campaigner, despite an order to ensure waste water is dealt with safely and hygienically at the village of Whitburn back in 2012.

At the time, the European Court of Justice found the Government guilty of failing to uphold standards over a flood water system, which had been pumping sewage into the sea just 1km off the South Tyneside coast.

And, despite being given five years to make things right, an investigation has now revealed that 300,000 cubic metres of untreated sewage had still been discharged during eight months of 2018, even though works of £10 million had been completed just the year before.

Local Surfers Against Sewage campaigner Bob Latimer, who has been fighting against the waste issue for more than 20 years, petitioned the EU with the help of his local MEP after realising the problem wasn’t going away.

Bob, who lives close to the popular stretch of sand, said: “The quantity of untreated waste entering the sea and the river is resulting in constant sewage debris in the sea, as found by local fishermen, and on the beaches.

“And while the water company have installed macerators, so the sewage is less obvious, sanitary and wet wipe debris can still be seen.

“You can also see discharges from the sea outfall by the colour.”

While the sewage discharge is limited to 20 times a year, Bob says it’s not the number of times it happens but the volume that is discharged each time that is causing the major problem.

He also claims the situation has now been made worse by the fact that there are currently plans to build over 300 new houses in the area and connect them to the existing sewers.

He said: “I have to say I was always shocked that this type of situation could take place in the UK and this continues.

“It is wrong and, even after all these years, I am still appalled and as determined as ever to get it corrected.

“I am 75-years-old and make no financial gain from shouting about this – but, if I don’t, then what would be the situation for our grandchildren in the future?”

The court date will not only look at Whitburn but also areas of the River Thames, which have continued to be affected by sewage spills despite major upgrades to water infrastructure to cope with excess water during storms and prevent contamination.

Now, the European Commission has given the UK two months to come up with a scheme or system to put the problem right, or the Government could potentially be hit with court action and financial sanctions.

A spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The UK compliance levels with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive are at or above the EU average and comparable with the better performing Member States.

“The Government is already taking significant action to achieve compliance in these locations – with much of these, such as in Whitburn, already complete.

“The Government is considering the Letter of Formal Notice in relation to compliance with EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive in London and Whitburn and will respond in due course.”

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Surfers Against Sewage warns new recycling scheme could fail to capture billions of plastic bottles if industry succeeds in watering down the Deposit Return Scheme

  • A consultation launched today on a new drink bottle Deposit Return Scheme shows the Government is considering the option of limiting the scheme to small bottles despite evidence that this would exclude millions of plastic bottles.
  • Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) volunteers collected 27,696 single-use drinks containers from 500 beaches and rivers in clean-ups in October. Of the bottles, 58 per cent were 750ml or larger and would be excluded if the drinks industry succeeds in convincing the government to limit the new deposit scheme.
  • Despite the evidence found on UK beaches the British Retail Consortium has called for limits on the size of plastic bottles included in the scheme.
  • Surfers Against Sewage’s petition ‘Bring Back Bottle Deposits to Stop Plastic Pollution in Our Oceans’, supported by 329,000 citizens and delivered to 10 Downing Street, called for a comprehensive and inclusive system to be introduced on plastic beverage bottles and cans.
  • The charity is urging the government to reduce the amount of pointless plastic being manufactured, sold and used, as the first step to slowing the plastic pollution crisis; and to bring forward its ambitions and deliver an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme sooner than the 2023 set out in the Resources & Waste Strategy.

A consultation launched today on a new drink bottle Deposit Return Scheme shows the Government is considering limiting the scheme to smaller plastic bottles despite evidence that this would exclude millions of larger ones found on UK beaches.

Hugo Tagholm, Surfers Against Sewage CEO said “Despite the stark evidence on our beaches industry is pushing for a watered-down scheme risking billions of bottles ending up in our oceans. In the face of this the UK Government must do the right thing for our seas and marine life and put in place a simple ‘all-in’ system without further delay. “

This inclusion of the ‘on-the-go’ model in the consultation reflects recent statements by the drinks industry aiming to limit the scope of any system introduced. However, evidence collected by volunteers cleaning up our beaches and rivers clearly shows that an ‘on-the-go’ model, limiting the sizes of beverage bottles included, would fail to protect our environment from plastic pollution and therefore also fall short of the expected recycling rates.

In October 2018 Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) organised the largest ever survey of single-use drinks bottles found on 487 UK beaches and rivers and volunteers measured 27,696 single use drinks containers. The plastic bottle sizes found were:

  • Small bottles (under 750 ml): 42%
  • 750 ml to Extra Large (e.g. 2 Litre party bottle): 58 %

An ‘all-in’ model captures up to 98% of plastic bottles in some countries. These systems collect more bottles and containers, and create the strongest circular economy. This is how to stop billions of plastic bottles from polluting our ocean.

“The most effective deposit return systems globally are the most inclusive – covering all sizes of beverage containers. This will be the most understandable for the public, ensuring that recycling becomes simpler and more effective” said Hugo Tagholm.

 Surfers Against Sewage has called on its supporters to take action and send a message to Michael Gove on Twitter. In the face of this pressure the Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Gove MP must do the right thing for our seas and marine life and put in place a simple ‘all-in’ drinks bottle recycling scheme without further delay. We know Michael Gove uses Twitter so we are asking the SAS community to share our message with him. If you are on twitter you can RT our tweet here. 

For interviews with Surfers Against Sewage spokespeople call 01872 555 954 or email press@sas.org.uk

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Communities invited to join the UK’s Biggest Beach, River, Mountain and City Clean

Surfers Against Sewage calls for action from mountain summits to city streets, from riverbanks to coastlines, to help stop plastic polluting our ocean

  • The Big Spring Beach Clean is the UK’s biggest beach clean event, mobilising over 30,000 authentic community volunteers at locations nationwide
  • This year, mountain cleans are included for the first time, alongside beach, river and city locations
  • Evidence shows that over 70% of plastic pollution comes from the land, meaning that we can all be beach clean volunteers wherever we are
  • Alongside removing plastic from the natural spaces around us, volunteers will conduct the UK’s biggest ever Plastic Pollution Audit to help further track and tackle plastic pollution to stop it at source
  • Sign up to Lead a Clean today by using SAS’s Step by Step Guide.

From the 6th to the 14th of April, we, in conjunction with the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, will mobilise more than 30,000 volunteers at 500 beach, river, city and mountain locations across the UK in its Big Spring Beach Clean: Summit to Sea. We are calling for inspired community leaders from all walks of life to help remove and track plastic pollution in their local area.

The Big Spring Beach Clean is the UK’s biggest coordinated beach clean activity, which has brought together over 150,000 volunteers over the last five years, contributing an incredible two million hours of volunteer time to protecting and conserving our beaches for everyone to enjoy. These vital community events not only remove dangerous plastics from our unique and precious coastal environment, but also indicate where action needs to be taken further upstream to reduce the leakage into and impact of plastics on our ocean and beaches.

A recent report showed that plastic makes up 70 per cent of all the litter in the ocean, and if no action is taken to reduce its input, then it is forecast to treble within the next ten years[1].

Almost a decade ago, we pioneered the Plastic Pollution Audit at our beaches to identify which plastics were washing up on our tidelines. This year we are conducting the research again to map and monitor plastics, and signpost where urgent action needs to be taken to reduce plastic pollution.

Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage says “The Big Spring Beach Clean is an annual celebration of our beaches, uniting thousands of like-minded volunteers to take action for our ocean. We are excited to be working with the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation to invite anyone, anywhere to lead a community clean-up with us to tackle plastic pollution. We can all be ocean guardians from our summits to the sea, from our river banks to city streets. Register your event today.”

Richard Walker, Trustee of the Iceland Charitable Food Foundation said “Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation and Surfers Against Sewage share a common passion for tackling the scourge of plastic head on, and we know that this is an issue that resonates with an ever-growing number of people. Our Iceland stores are at the heart of high streets up and down the country and we recruit our store colleagues locally, making us a true community retailer. We are delighted to be backing SAS in encouraging individuals and organisations throughout the UK to help make a difference to the quality of their local environment through The Big Spring Beach Clean.”

We hope to engage a wide range of people to take part in protecting the ocean from summit to sea.

Individuals can find their nearest clean or volunteer to lead their own at www.sas.org.uk or by emailing beachcleans@sas.org.uk. All Clean Leaders will receive a Big Spring Beach Clean kit, a limited edition SAS insulated Hydroflask, a step-by-step guide to organizing their clean, along with support and guidance from the SAS Team in organising their event.

We would like to thank Partners the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, Hydro Flask, and Community Partners; Surfing England, British Canoeing, Canoe Foundation, The Wave Project and the Outdoor Swimming Society.  

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