New research has revealed how products from just a handful of companies account for more than half of packaging pollution found on UK beaches – with Coca Cola and PepsiCo named the worst offenders.
The figures, unveiled by ocean conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage, have been submitted to government as campaigners call for transparency from the UK’s ‘biggest polluters’.
It follows the UK’s largest ever nation-wide survey of packaging pollution found on Britain’s beaches and rivers, conducted by more than 45,000 volunteers during SAS’s recent Big Spring Beach Clean series.
And, with the results now publicly released, it has been exposed that the vast majority of UK waste found strewn across the coastline is the responsibility of just a handful of companies.
During the 229 cleans in April, 49,413 pieces of pollution were picked up, of which 20,045 were branded, with Coca Cola producing the largest proportion of branded items (15.5%), PepsiCo, which owns Walkers, made 10.3 per cent, followed by Mondelez International, which owns Cadbury, at 6.8 per cent and Nestle 5.5%.
Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage says: "Our survey clearly shows that big business is responsible for the scourge of plastic and packaging pollution. Just ten companies were responsible for over half of the packaging pollution recorded. Unsurprisingly, the high street brands had headline appearances with Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle and McDonald’s all gracing the top ten. These companies must invest more in the redesign of packaging, alternative ways of product delivery and ramping up packaging re-use to truly turn the tide on the plastic pollution that is sweeping our world.”
The research has been submitted to the UK government as evidence in the consultation underway on plastic packaging and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in a bid to make producers (parent companies) take more responsibility for the costs of dealing with their packaging once it has been discarded.
Under the present EPR guidelines, producers ‘that handle over 50 tonnes of packaging annually and have an annual turnover over £2 million’ should be accountable for the cost and system for dealing with the packaging they create and sell.
Now, SAS is urging the Government to put in place stricter rulings, saying it is critical that new EPR regulations ensure transparency in the amount of all producers packaging in order to fully hold the to account for the pollution they create.