The "Dirty Dozen" brands of the UK beaches

June 7, 2010 | Environment
The Dirty Dozen brands: don't buy them

To mark World Ocean Day, clean water campaigners Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) are highlighting the "Dirty Dozen" of identifiable beach litter items to help tackle the blight of rubbish on UK beaches.

SAS is releasing the "Dirty Dozen" league table, revealing the 12 companies to which it has sent the most identifiable beach litter back to as part of the award winning Return To Offender campaign.

The Return To Offender campaign is one of SAS's most successful marine litter campaigns to date. Launched in 2006, SAS has sent almost 600 items of identifiable marine litter back to the companies producing them.

Whilst SAS acknowledges that these companies aren't directly responsible for dropping the litter, SAS returns the offending items accompanied with a call, for them to:

1. Step up ‘the anti-littering' message on your products
2. Look at using less harmful packaging to ensure products can be broken down naturally without putting wildlife at risk
3. Promote recycling and/or reuse wherever appropriate

SAS's "Dirty Dozen," who are accountable for 56% of the total amount of litter returned, are being asked to recognize that immediate steps are necessary to reduce the impacts of their products and packaging, and prevent it ending up on UK beaches.

1. Nestle: 51
2. Coca Cola: 49
3. Walkers Snaks / Frito Lays: 47
4. Kraft: 45
5. Tesco: 34
6. Mars: 22
7. Unilever: 19
8. Pepsico: 16
9. United Biscuits: 15
10. Carlsberg: 13
11. Co-Op: 10
12. Asda: 9

Overall total individual products sent: 591

Total Number of parent companies: 131

The Return To Offender campaign is already making a big impact with some of these companies.

Coke's Director of Sustainability in Europe contacted SAS to discuss the positive steps they are making in the right direction and stated that they are prepared to meet all of the demands set out in the campaign.

Make no mistake, Coke have a lot they need to improve, however, we are pleased to see them commit to steps forward to improve sustainability.

The amount of marine plastics on our beaches has increased by 146% since 1994 and this wave of trash shows no sign of subsiding.

Studies show that 80% of marine litter comes from land based sources, such as the general public visiting our beaches.

SAS are campaigning to halt this unwanted wave of rubbish, and has recently won Coast Magazine's 2010 Environmental Campaign Award for our ongoing work on marine litter.

What is most striking and saddening to SAS is the overwhelming presence of single use product packaging in the "Dirty Dozen."

However we know that through our many marine litter campaigns, that include calling on the government to implement a National Marine Litter Strategy, our UK wide Beach Clean tours and Return To Offender we can make and are making a difference.

SAS Campaign Officer, Dom Ferris, says: "Whilst we recognize that it is not the companies themselves that drop the litter, we are calling on them to use the vast influence that they have over their consumers positively."

"By introducing new, less harmful packaging and doing more to make their customers aware of the impacts that littering has on the marine environment. They can help lessen the impact of their products on our precious marine environments."

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