Volunteering in the community takes time, dedication and a can-do attitude – which is why, not only is the work appreciated, but it’s also vital to helping charities achieve their missions.
Take, for example, the thousands of volunteers who get involved with beach cleans, plastic-free campaigning and fighting back against sewage in their communities every year, with our support.
Each year, thousands of pieces of waste are collected from the local environment by people all over the UK, before it can make its way into the sea and become a part of the food chain – making these volunteers the cornerstones of our overarching marine conservation ethos.
But what makes them do it? And why do they carry on?
Meg Lampard is a beach clean leader based in Fareham, Hampshire, who has been organising the Big Spring Beach Clean and Autumn Beach Clean events in her area for the last four years.
“It’s a great feeling getting a bunch of likeminded individuals together to tackle a problem and then being able to see the difference it makes.
People are happy to come along to be by the sea, so the events are always upbeat and, knowing it’s a Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) clean, the council and partners know that all the boxes will be ticked as well, so are happy to let me get on with it.”
Growing up in Cornwall, Meg says she was aware of SAS’s early campaign to clean up bathing waters, where she spent a of time as a child.
The work at the time is what inspired her to get involved later on.
“SAS gained a lot of kudos amongst the local community for the work they did back then and it’s good to be able to give something back now as a thank you.
It feels good to get out and see change happen and once you’ve tackled your first clean, the rest seems fairly straightforward!”
During her cleans, Meg likes to provide drinks and snacks, with the help of local partners, so people have a chance to chat together after and make new connections each time.
She also says the initial setting up is quite simple – involving a few quick emails and phone calls to her local council before then contacting her local network of groups to help raise awareness for the clean itself.
“We clean right next to the Haven National Nature Reserve and it’s good to know that the birds and wildlife have a better chance of surviving here, as there will be less plastic on the beach.
I partner up with other local groups too, so it’s definitely a community event.”
It’s this dedication and commitment to her local environment that means Meg is now getting ready to take on Plastic Free Fareham, in a bid to impassion local businesses as much as the local people to do their part in ridding the world of single-use plastic.
But, for those thinking about getting involved in their own clean, she added:
“SAS make it simple with a step by step guide to running a clean.
It may seem daunting but the feeling of accomplishing the clean is incredibly uplifting.”
Article written on behalf of SAS by Hazel Murray
Urban areas are set to become a staple of one beach cleaning campaign – as more inland towns and cities join the fight against plastic pollution than ever before.
We introduced our ‘Summit to Sea’ project earlier this year, encouraging cities and towns to get involved with the beach cleaning initiative.
As part of our mission, two national week-long events are held each year – the Big Spring Beach Clean and the Autumn Beach Clean, which aim to protect coastlines, create cleaner oceans and clean up inland areas.
And with the Autumn Beach Clean: Summit to Sea set to be held in a matter of weeks (October 19th -27th), volunteers from across the UK are striving to rid beaches, mountains, rivers and city streets of harmful pollution.
Jess Morris, one of our Regional Reps based in London, said:
“I think SAS has such an important role to play here in London. As the capital city, everyone looks to London to lead the way on many levels.
We need to lead by example and show new and active ways to save our oceans and planet.
A city like this produces a staggering amount of waste and, with the Thames running like the main artery through the city, we have a responsibility to act now!”
Having first got involved with SAS in 2005, Jess started helping out with beach cleans when holidaying with her family in Cornwall.
She then went on to study photography at Falmouth University, where she became even more immersed in our work, before moving back to London.
“After moving to London, I was shocked by the lack of environmental consciousness in the city and I decided that I would do as much as I could to raise awareness.
That’s when I got in contact with SAS head office and became a Rep.”
Today, however, she says things are changing, as people begin to take their local environment more seriously.
“We now have over 30 Plastic Free Communities based here in London, who are all working extremely hard towards their SAS plastic-free status [see https://www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-communities/ for more info].
Awareness has increased dramatically, and individuals are starting to actively get involved either with us or on their own – I get contacted daily by individuals and business asking for help and advice on how they can reduce their own impact and encourage others to do so.”
With numerous cleaning events now regularly being held around the city, including litter-picking hen do parties, she says that this year the London Reps are planning a huge Autumn Beach Clean event at the ‘Wake Up Dockland’ centre, on Saturday 19th October.
“We are hoping it will be our biggest gathering to date here in the city, as we are encouraging all the Plastic Free Communities to join us.
We want to unite the whole of London and stand together. We want to use this event as a platform to show London that SAS is in the city and we are fighting for our planet.”
As part of the Autumn Beach Clean events, thousands of volunteers rally their communities every year to remove things like plastic waste for a cleaner, safer environment – and, over the last eight years since its inception in 2011, the Autumn Beach Clean has seen 1,419 cleans organised.
That is thanks to 50,033 volunteers, who have cleared 114,341kg of plastic pollution from beaches and rivers across the UK during this event to date.
Article written on behalf of SAS by Hazel Murray
The post SAS Autumn Beach Clean Heads Further Inland in Bid to Stop Plastic Entering the Sea appeared first on Surfers Against Sewage.
With lots of families kitting out children of all ages to go back to class in September, it’s a great time to think about our plastic impact and how we can do things a better way for our environment. From plastic free lunches to uniform swaps or asking your school to take action on single-use there is something everyone can do, no matter what their age.
Here are our top tips … A* if you can score all five!
Get a Refill Drinks Bottle
Fill and refill to save all those individual cartons, straws and bottles. Even better, just fill with water and keep your young Einsteins hydrated and brain-ready for the whole day. Lots of schools now offer water refill points to keep them topped up. If not check out Refill to see how to set one up.
Plastic Free Lunches
Use tubs, boxes, beeswax or paper wraps to store sandwiches, fruit, veg sticks etc. Bulk buy things like crisps, nuts and yoghurt and decant into smaller tubs to reduce packaging. Home bake treats and paper-wrap them or put them in a tub. Encourage packed lunches for older children to save money and reduce single-use snacks, takeaways and meal-deals.
Expensive for purses … and the environment. Clothing has one of the biggest impacts on resources and can contain plastic, so let’s rethink and see how we can re-use what’s already available. More schools are setting up uniform swap shops or sell second-hand items. Scour local charity shops and take the kids too so it becomes a norm to shop second-hand.
Reduce & Reuse
What will last at least another year? School bags, lunchboxes, pencil cases, stationery … there is so much pressure to buy, buy, buy and children do love to have the latest ‘stuff’. Buy what’s needed, look for sustainable alternatives and check out your local SAS Plastic Free Champion businesses who are trying to reduce impact.
Sign up to Plastic Free Schools
We need to take individual and family action … but we also need action from decision makers, industry and government. Help bring about change at your school or college and ask them to support plastic-free and sustainable options. Even better, get signed up to SAS Plastic Free Schools here
Students can set up a Plastic Free Uni or College by emailing email@example.com
And finally … for those kitting out students for Uni, help set good habits from the start as they take their first steps to go it alone:
- Make sure they have a refill cup and bottle but also food containers like tiffin tins and Tupperware to store snacks and leftovers/lunches.
- Act by example by shopping local and as plastic free as you can, e.g. at the grocers, market or farm shop and Refill shops. Then find out where your child’s local options will be, so they can do the same.
- Encourage packed lunches and home cooking from scratch … hold a few lessons and squeeze out some more bits of quality time before they head off to pastures new.
Over 600 communities across the UK are signed up to SAS Plastic Free Communities, working to start freeing where they live from single-use. You can get involved with your local community here … and if you don’t have one yet, why not start one? Sign up here.
Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, has today (16th July) in a speech at Kew Gardens outlined his support for a comprehensive deposit return system (DRS) that covers the “maximum amount of potentially polluting packaging”, covering all sizes of cans and bottles. Gove explained how the ‘all-in’ system, supported and informed by Surfers Against Sewage since its Message in a Bottle campaign in 2016, would provide a “clearer financial and social signal to recycle”.
The Environment Secretary promised that new systems would ensure that producers pay the full cost of the recycling costs of their packaging, up from the 10% contribution currently made, saying:
“We need to work with business to make deposit return schemes as effective as possible and I believe an “all-in” deposit return scheme will give consumers the greatest possible incentive to recycle.”
The announcement follows a Government consultation in which two key frameworks; the ‘all-in’ approach, and a restricted ‘on the go’ option, were proposed. Surfers Against Sewage has firmly backed a comprehensive system to reduce packaging pollution and boost recycling, whilst also reducing the risk that producers will switch to less sustainable materials in order to avoid having to take part in the system.
On the announcement Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage said:
“Surfers Against Sewage welcomes today’s announcement from the Secretary of State for the Environment to deliver an ambitious, ‘all-in’, Deposit Return Scheme for England. The message after years of campaigning from many environmental organisations is now louder than ever and has shown clearly that a comprehensive scheme will help stop plastic pollution of our rivers, countryside, streets and ocean. This is one of our biggest system changes that will truly trap plastic in the economy, creating a circular and sustainable economy, and preventing the devastating damage that plastic and packaging pollution causes to wildlife, habitats and our seas.”
The ‘all-in’ system also mirrors the approach to be taken in Scotland, and is expected to drive bottle recycling rates in excess of 90%, up from the current 57%. This poses a significant environment benefit over the ‘on the go’ proposal, which research by Surfers Against Sewage revealed would exclude 58% of the plastic bottles found on British beaches and rivers.
Gove also used the opportunity to raise wider environmental concerns including climate breakdown, biodiversity loss and plastic pollution, declaring that “nature is in retreat” and “time is running out” to avert multiple crises. To achieve this, Gove announced that a new Environment Bill would “enshrine in law measures that will tackle environmental decline”, and that a truly independent environment watchdog would be instated, equipped with the “sharp teeth” it would require.
The post Gove backs ‘all-in’ deposit return system for drinks containers. appeared first on Surfers Against Sewage.
The Environment Agency has today released its annual performance assessments for English water companies, finding overall performance to be ‘simply unacceptable’.
Serious warnings to the water companies causing damage to rivers, wildlife, beaches and bathers has been issued in the latest annual performance assessments today.
In the report’s foreword, Emma Howard Boyd, EA chair said:
“Performance in 2018 was simply unacceptable … rather than improving, the performance of most companies has deteriorated, reversing the trend of gradual improvement since we introduced the environmental performance assessment in 2011.”
Southern Water and Yorkshire Water, in particular, were identified for their poor performance and unacceptable levels of ‘serious pollution incidents’. These include events which cause either serious extensive or persistent impacts on the environment, people or property, and may, for example, result in a large number of fish deaths. The number of serious pollution incidents across England also rose from 52 to 56.
South West Water also shared the two star “unacceptable level of performance” rating, showing no improvement from 2017, due to its excessive number of total pollution incidents which were significantly worse than targeted.
Northumbrian Water was the only one of the nine companies which managed to achieve the expected four-star level of performance during the assessment period, and is one of the few companies leading the way in providing year-round data to the Safer Seas Service. SAS is calling for all water companies to provide year-round combined sewer overflow alerts by 2020, allowing water users to make informed decisions on whether it’s safe to us the water.
The report also highlighted that most companies look set to miss the Environment Agency’s 2020 pollution targets.
The findings follow Surfers Against Sewage’s release of sewage spill data from the Safer Seas Service last week, which highlighted the failures of water companies to prevent pollution of bathing waters already during the 2019 season, with Southern Water performing particularly poorly – prompting action from regional SAS reps.
Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage said:
“Water companies must put the health of the planet before their profits. Today’s damning report shows just how poorly most of England’s water companies are performing, presiding in a regime of wilful pollution, poor planning and a lack of investment. Protecting our rivers, ocean and natural water supplies is non-negotiable – they are crucial to the health of communities. Water companies must do much better than this.
Through the #GenerationSea campaign, Surfers Against Sewage is calling for robust legislation to protect UK water quality standards through Brexit, and a strong, independent watchdog to regulate water company performance and hold companies accountable for pollution offences.
In addition, the Ocean Conservation All-Party Parliamentary Group for which SAS are the secretariat, is pushing for new legislation led by Scott Mann MP to enable regulators to fine and hold water companies accountable for combined sewer overflows.
Surfers Against Sewage is urging supporters to contact their local MP, calling for them to pledge their support for #GenerationSea – protecting our oceans from sewage, plastic pollution, global heating and over-exploitation by fisheries. Alongside this, our Safer Seas Service should be utilised to stay informed with real-time sewage spill alerts and water quality information.
Full report available here.
In November 2018, Greenpeace experts assessed the level of plastic pollution in the Black and Azov Seas. On the beaches 13,000 fragments were found, ranging from tiny pieces of unknown origin to 100 kilogram ship ropes.
The main sources of pollution are tourists, waste from other countries brought by currents, and maritime shipping.
Most of the plastic found is determined to be single-use packaging or goods. In the Black Sea, the share of such plastic is almost 68%, on the Azov Sea – up to 90%. The main pollutant of the latter was bottles, and the Black Sea coast was filled with styrofoam.
“We have now witnessed that plastic pollution is a real problem for the Black and Azov seas. On the hundred-meter sections of the coast, we found from 435 to 3,501 pieces of plastic. Even the borders of the Utrish nature reserve are littered. We found 1,001 plastic pieces in one monitored area and 2,991 pieces in the other. This is mainly one-off goods, packaging and bags that are all trash we can consciously avoid. Today in Russia there is no regulations over plastic pollution of the environment. There are no holistic measures to prevent it. Greenpeace urges the Government of the Russian Federation to develop a national system for monitoring plastic contamination and approve a list of single-use goods, containers and packaging that should be banned step by step. We cannot resolve this issue otherwise,” says Alexander Ivannikov, an expert at the Zero Waste project of Greenpeace Russia.
Interestingly, the more difficult it was for people to have access to an area, the higher its level of plastic contamination was. This may be due to the fact that such areas are less likely to be cleaned, while debris is still washed ashore.
Single-use plastic items pollute the environment, decompose for hundreds of years and harm animals. Sea inhabitants and birds often become its victims, mistaking pieces of plastic for food or getting entangled in them. According to the British government, plastic ends up in stomachs of 31 species of marine mammals and 100 species of seabirds.
On the method
During the expedition, Greenpeace experts used the methodology for monitoring marine debris on the beaches, which was developed by the DeFishGear project. The data collected was one of the reasons for the European Commission to ban certain types of plastic products.
According to the methodology, Greenpeace experts chose hundred-meter areas (polygons): 5 – on the Black Sea coast and 3 – on the Sea of Azov. From the surface of polygons, visually distinguishable fragments of plastic were collected, their number was counted, they were weighed and sorted by purpose / type of product.
(2 June 2019 Press release) Worldwide, over 8 million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into the oceans every year, and beverage plastic bottles are the most commonly found type of waste during beach clean-up activities that serve as a good indicator of marine plastic waste.
The Green Earth has launched the ‘Short-Lived Plastic’ Plastic Bottle Brand Research in July 2018. Since then, 43 beach clean-up activities have been conducted in 25 locations, covering Hong Kong Island, New Territories, and the Outlying Islands. Out of the 11,321 bottles collected in our study, 7,945 bottles were categorized by brands and a total of 287 brands were identified. The group was unable to identify the brands of the remaining 3,376 bottles due to the missing of labels and/or bottle caps.
Based on our research findings, C’estbon, which is owned by the mainland Chinese brand China Resources, accounted for the most bottles collected. This was followed by Swire Coca-Cola series, Vita series, Watsons Water series, and mainland Chinese brand Master Kong respectively.
Among the traditional Chinese labelling brands, Vita ranked the first, followed by Coca-Cola and Watsons Water. These three brands have accounted for 75% of the total bottles collected (3,919 bottles).
Apart from the ranking, The Green Earth has discovered the following main points:
Finding 1. Regarding bottles wrapped with traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese character labels, each accounts for 48% of the total number of bottles found, and the remaining 4% was of other languages, which reflects that the Hong Kong shorelines are greatly affected by marine wastes generated in mainland China and should be addressed.
While mainland China is the country that generates the most marine plastic waste in the world, we should apply four ways at the same time to tackle the issue: 1. To launch the producer responsibility regulation for beverage packaging as soon as possible; 2. Before the implementation of the regulation, the mainland Chinese drink manufacturers such as C’estbon, Master Kong, etc. should set aggressive plastic reduction goals; 3. To improve waste collection and recycling facilities; 4. To improve cooperation, monitoring, and reporting system between Guangdong authorities and the Hong Kong SAR government, so as to prevent plastic wastes and household waste from entering the rivers and the oceans.
Most of the international beverage manufacturers have launched and implemented plastic reduction measures. Local brands such as Swire Coca-Cola, Vita, and Watsons Water have also announced their plastic reduction target that is to recycle 70-90% of their beverage bottles by 2025. We urge the mainland Chinese brands to catch up and do not fall behind the trend.
In Hong Kong, the recycling rate of PET beverage bottles remains low throughout the years, with a recycling rate of only 6.8% in 2017. The Green Earth believes there is an urgent need for the Environmental Protection Department to conclude the consultancy study of the plastic bottle producer responsibility scheme, and to move on to the next step – legislation development.
Finding 2. According to the classification of drink types, non-water drinks such as soft drink, juice, and tea only account for 33% (2,580 bottles), while water, including both mineral and distilled water, accounts for 67% (5,151 bottles).
The Green Earth points out that the number of waste bottled water can be greatly reduced with the quicker introduction of water dispensers to be installed widely in the community and wider use of reusable water bottles by the public. Beverage producers should consider changing the format of sales from selling drinks in single-use plastic bottles to dispensing facilities.
The Green Earth would like to emphasize that an average of 20,000 disposable beverage plastic bottles are sold every second worldwide, with most of the used bottles being dumped at landfills and a very small portion have got properly recycled. We believe the most effective solution is to reduce at source, avoid purchasing single-use beverage plastic bottles, and recycle properly in case of unavoidable purchase.
To address the ocean plastic waste problems, The Green Earth urges:
1. Support ‘Short-Lived Plastic’ Plastic Bottle Brand Research to continuously monitor the plastic packaging industry. Details: http://greenearth-hk.org/plasticwaste/
2. Apart from plastic bottles, we are also expanding our monitoring coverage to plastic packaging, and the result will be released in August;
3. On 8 June ‘World Ocean Day’, we will be conducting beach clean-up and brand research in the Plover Cover Reservoir. Details: https://forms.gle/Zs6JyxofxXNypdBN7
Clean-up survey sites:
Hong Kong Island: Cape D’aguilar, Shek O Tai Tau Chau.
New Territories: Yuen Long -– Ha Pak Nai; Tuen Mun – Lung Kwu Tan; Lai Chi Wo; Crooked Island; Sha Tau Kok – Wu Shek Kok, Tai Po – Sha Lan, Sam Mun Tsai, Yuen Chau Tsai Park; Plover Cover Reservoir; Sai Kung – Pak Sha Chau, Yeung Chau, Chuk Kok, Little Palm Beach, Cham Tau Chau.
Outlying Islands: Lantau Island – Tung Chung River, Tai O, Shui Hau, Tung Ping Chau, Sunshine Island; Lamma Island – Yung Shue Ha Village, Pak Kap Hang; Tung Lung Chau – Kai Yue Tam, Tathong Point.
Special Thanks to:
GoGo Clean Up, Lantau Buffalo Association, Association for Sha Tau Kok Culture and Ecology, Coastal Conservation Hong Kong, NatureSprites, Gaomad Yeah, Trailwatch, Green Sense, Tung Lung Chau, Typhoon Mangkhut aftermath clean up group (Tung Lau Chau), YC Leung, Kitti, Kammy Lai.
The Green Earth – Executive Director Edwin Lau; Director of Environmental Advocacy Hahn Chu; Project Officer Mandy Cheung; 37088380
Posted in The Green Earth HK.
The post The Annual Report Of Plastic Bottle Brand Research – Half Of The Bottles Belongs To Local Brands While The Other Half Belongs To Mainland Chinese Brands (Video Of Short-Lived Plastic Brand Survey Attached) appeared first on Break Free From Plastic.
Fast food giant says it aims to ensure all packaging comes from renewable or recycled sources by 2025
On Monday night, Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall sat down with the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to quiz him about the scale and nature of our plastic pollution crisis. Hugh is doing such a brilliant job in raising this issue, so we thought we’d provide a handy list of things Michael Gove should do as soon as possible to win the War on Plastic:
Set targets in law to radically reduce the amount of plastic we make and use in the upcoming Environment Bill
We know that if we’re serious about dealing with climate and environmental breakdown, we need to make a bold switch away from being a society where things are used once and thrown away to one where we value everything we make. With plastic, this will require businesses to transform the way they get products to you – making far more things reusable, refillable or simply not using any packaging at all. We can’t rely on voluntary commitments to make this happen, as businesses have a bit of a habit of making them then breaking them. So the only way we’re going to make the switch happen, we think, is to set targets for year-on-year reduction of the amount of plastic that we make and use. The upcoming Environment Bill, which the government is intending to use to ‘leave the environment in a better state than when they found it’, is a perfect opportunity for Gove and this government to keep their word.
Publicly acknowledge that recycling alone isn’t enough, and that reduction is the only way forward
To their credit, the government recently responded to pressure from people like you, and consulted on a few different measures that they’re planning to introduce to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans. They’re all great ideas which could have a big impact, from a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, to increasing the amount producers pay to clean up their packaging waste. But currently, the government is focused solely on making the plastic we use more recyclable, and not thinking at all about how we use less of it. Given plastic production is set to quadruple by 2050 and plastic as a material can only be recycled a limited number of times before it can no longer be used this clearly isn’t good enough.
Make producers pay the full cost of cleaning up the plastic they make, including the environmental damage done by making the plastic in the first place
One of the biggest reasons why we see so much of our packaging dumped in other countries is because, unlike in lots of other European countries, companies that make and use packaging in the UK aren’t held fully financially responsible for making sure it gets recycled properly. Instead, that cost is currently falling on overstretched councils, paid for by you and me. That means companies can keep making the kind of hard-to-recycle or composite plastic packaging that Hugh was finding (and Greenpeace Unearthed exposed) all over the waste dumps in Malaysia.
Government is currently consulting on changing this system significantly, including stopping it being cheaper to export waste, which is great, but their proposal only goes halfway. Not only should companies that use lots of packaging (retailers, manufacturers etc.) be charged the full cost of collecting and sorting the waste they make, but the government should ensure that they cover the cost of all the environmental damage that making plastic packaging causes – from the microplastic ‘nurdles’ that are used to make plastic items that leak into our seas and rivers, to the fossil fuel and air pollution impacts of plastic factories. Without this, nothing will drive them to improve their habits.
Commit to phasing down the exporting, burning or dumping of our plastic waste as soon as possible
Hugh’s War on Plastic has made it clear that we cannot keep dumping our mess on other countries. Not only does the government need to come up with a plan for phasing down the practice of exporting plastic waste for good, but we also need to make sure that we’re capable of dealing with it ourselves. As we’ve said, the best way to do that is through making and using less stuff, but we also need to make sure that we have the recycling infrastructure in this country to deal with what we do make in the short term. We also can’t let the government dodge the problem by sending our waste to incinerators that cough up greenhouse gases and pollute our air.
You can tell your MP to join this fight by heading to: act.gp/2MSrLfI
The post What does Michael Gove need to do to win the War on Plastic? appeared first on Greenpeace UK.