I am a coastliner born and bred by the sea in Ramsgate and being on and in the sea is just a way of life for me. I adore sea swims and paddle boarding and with spending time at one with nature like this, it is all too easy to see the damage some humans are willing to inflict on our ocean environment. I am always getting fixated on a piece of litter floating by and diverting my paddle to hook it out and take it back to land and litter pick on my beach walks.

Earlier in May this year, Surfers Against Sewage ran their ‘Million Mile Clean’ and as part of this volunteers took part in a brand audit of the rubbish to understand which brands create products that lead to the most pollution. They have done this in previous years and it just highlights the disaster unfolding on our seas.

They compiled a line up of the offending brands, the Dirty Dozen, which had Coca-Cola take the top spot, with a whopping 65% of litter collected being attributed to this organisation. And the worst 12 being:

  1. Coca-Cola
  2. Walkers
  3. AB InBev
  4. McDonalds
  5. Mondelez
  6. Heinenken
  7. Tesco
  8. Carlsberg Group
  9. Suntory
  10. Haribo
  11. Mars
  12. Aldi

You can read the whole Brand Audit Report by clicking here. 

There is a call to get our government to make the polluters pay for the cost of disposing their products. I realise there is a debate around ‘but they didn’t litter’, but equally there needs to be ownership of the full life cycle of something you create and make such handsome profits from. As it stands the Government are debating the idea of an Extended Producer Responsibility in 2023 that will make the manufacturer responsible for managing, recycling and disposing all of their packaging waste.

A Deposit Return Scheme has also been on the cards but has been delayed in the past. I’ve seen this working first hand in Norway, where waste suddenly has a value, you simply take your packaging back to drop points at the supermarket and each item has a value, for example 10p for a 500ml drink bottle, 40p for a 2l bottle and so on. Once you’re items are deposited you get a coupon to spend in the supermarket. It is easy, efficient and takes the packaging back to source. And because waste has a financial gain to the consumer attached to it, there is a huge motivation to dispose of it back a the recycling point. And you know what, Norway is one of the cleanest countries I’ve ever travelled in.

We urgently need this and legislation banning non-essential single use plastics, tackling how waste is managed and processed and this should lead to a cultural change about how we view waste as a society.

If this is something that resonates then there are so many things you can do:

  1. Share about the Surfers Against Sewage ‘Dirty Dozen Brand Audit Report’ – share on your socials, talk to your friends about it
  2. Engage the wider community – could you actively raise awareness about this issue – perhaps send some info about the Brand Audit Report to a school or college or university geography/sciences/events/tourism department to highlight it as a teaching resource.
  3. Sign petitions calling for taxation on companies who pollute
  4. Donate regularly to ocean positive charities like Surfers Against Sewage and Marine Conservation Society
  5. Email your MP highlighting your support for Extended Producer Responsibility and Deposit Return Scheme – yes, you’re just one voice, but together we are 66 million voices in the UK – let’s roar.
  6. If you found this blog post helpful – please share on your socials and tag me – big love!

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