Return to Offender


A Marine Litter campaign

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Return to Offender

The campaign

The Return To Offender campaign sends items of identifiable marine litter found on UK beaches back to the manufacturers and distributors, challenging them to:

  • Extended Producer Responsibility – Develop active and improved product stewardship strategies (Extended Producer Responsibility) to better protect the marine and wider environment from their products and associated packaging.
  • Behavioural Change Campaigns – Support school education programmes & wider behavioural change campaigns to transform how the public buys, uses and consumes products.
  • Reduce, Reuse & Recycle – Reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging used.  Support and facilitate re-use and recycling, particularly at beach and coastal locations.
  • Grassroots Conservation – Support grass roots marine conservation initiatives and beach clean activities.
  • Environmental Impact Labels – Develop environmental impact icons and messaging to encourage recycling & better disposal.

We are calling for business-wide Extended Producer/Distributor Responsibility (EPDR) programmes for all products and packaging made and sold in the UK. We are calling for companies to develop active product stewardship strategies to better protect the marine and wider environment, reduce levels of litter whilst also ensuring greater sustainability and efficiency within the manufacturing process, and specifically to reduce or eliminate excess packaging wherever possible, preferably through more efficient design.

We believe that manufacturers should review how they design, produce and sell their products and associated packaging and reevaluate their supply chains to close the loop on litter entering the environment. The earlier potential waste and litter can be designed, engineered or eliminated from the manufacturing cycle, the smaller chance litter will enter the environment and the smaller the volume.

We also encourage manufacturers and retailers to support behavioural change campaigns to transform how the public buys, uses and consumes products, and better facilitating re-use and recycling.  We also call for more support from businesses to fund and resource community driven marine conservation initiatives including voluntary beach cleans.

Our calls for businesses to be more proactive in waste, recycling and resource management at the beachfront, through better infrastructure development and improved collections systems.

We are also calling for enhanced labeling on single-use plastic packaging to include additional environmental impact messaging, alongside more prominent recycling information. We are calling for prominent icons and wording to be developed to convey environmental threats packaging can pose.

Get involved

How can you help with this campaign…

  • Keep an eye out for identifiable marine litter whenever you are at the beach.
  • Download your own SAS Return To Offender campaign message (Word Doc format) and fill in the spaces with the details of where you found the beach litter. Download document
  • Download the Offender Addresses and find the manufacturer that makes your beach litter and post it off (take care to trace the big company that owns the brand, E.g. Cadbury is owned by Kraft!). We know postage can be expensive so we have also provided Freepost addresses for members of the "Dirty Dozen" worst offenders and some others. Download document
  • If you are able to, please email info [at] sas [dot] org [dot] uk with photos and details of the litter you Return To Offender.

Campaign timeline

Key campaign dates


Campaign launched!

SAS campaigners and pro surfers from Hawaii, Australia, South Africa, America and the UK launched the Return To Offender campaign whilst taking a break from the WQS Highland Open Surf competition to clean the reef.  Collecting the identifiable litter, SAS campaigners and pro surfers called the ‘offending’ companies, challenging them to help their customers stop littering.


Shipping waste Returned To Offender

In 2008 several containers were lost overboard in the Atlantic, near the south west tip of the UK.  Winds, waves and tide relentlessly deposited the contents of these containers onto our shores.

SAS campaigners collected hundreds of Baxters medical packs (containing saline solution) and returned them to the Baxter head office in Holland.


Return To Offender wins best campaign award!

The Return To Offender campaign was awarded the Best Green Marine Campaign by Coast Magazine in 2009.


Dirty Dozen Released

Since inception the Return To Offender campaign has sent an item of marine litter back to the manufacturer.  On World Ocean Day we released our Dirty Dozen list, highlighting the manufacturers responsible for the most frequent litter items found on our beaches.  The Return To Offender campaign continues to return at least 1 item of litter a day to the offending manufacturer.


The Return To Offender Weekend

The inaugural Return To Offender weekend on 24th & 25th November 2012 gave the public a fantastic opportunity to challenge businesses about the marine litter crisis.


Hurray, Haribo take on the Return To Offender challenge

Haribo contacted SAS after receiving numerous items of Haribo packaging thanks to the Return To Offender campaign.  SAS advised on how to improve the Haribo anti-litter messaging across their products and sales resources.  Haribo have implemented some responsible updates to their anti-littering advice on their packaging and educational materials.