Most Common Source of Packaging Pollution Revealed

Jason Lock

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Updated 152d ago

As surfers, we're all advocates of cleaner, healthier seas and beaches. Post surf, do you take three for the sea? Do you get involved in an impromptu litter pick to give a little something back to our aquatic playgrounds? If you do, what do you pick up most?

If the answer's Coca Cola bottles, then you'd fall right in line with some new research from UK-based Surfers Against Sewage. According to their study, Coca Cola bottles and cans are the most common found items of packaging pollution on British beaches, making up nearly 12 per cent of all litter they cleared up.

Those results have been made up of studies from a series of 229 beach cleans organised by SAS, where around 50,000 pieces of litter were picked up and around 20,000 of these were from big named bands, Coca Cola, number one, followed up Walkers, Cadbury's, McDonald's and Nestle.

Does that surprise? Did you know plastic bottles can take around 450 years to decompose? And given Coca Cola's fingerprints in every aspect of modern living, it's little surprise their products are on the beaches, given the sheer volume of shares. You can see the full report HERE.

Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage said: “Our survey of packaging pollution on beaches and rivers 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. 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.

“People and planet need these companies to change how they do business. At the moment, the cost of this waste is left in the hands of local councils, tax payers and, finally, the environment.”

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.

According to the SAS, “parent companies do not share information on the quantity of packaging they produce, hiding the scale of their damage to the environment - and paying less than 10% of the costs of dealing with it.”

And solutions? Perhaps a return to maker scheme may put pressure on. Easier ways to recycle? Viable. But the crux is that a global change in mindset needs to happen.