Our plastic pollution campaigns

Take action against plastic pollution

We’re drowning in a toxic tide of plastic. It’s time to pull the plug.

So here’s what we’re doing and how you can help.

From choking waterways to depleting resources, the hamster wheel of overproduction that results in mountains of new, single-use, disposable and non-essential plastic is causing a global and ecological crisis of epic proportions. No more sugar-coating. Change is vital for the survival of life on earth. So what now?

What we’re doing about plastic pollution

Surfers Against Sewage is a leading voice in the battle to eliminate plastic pollution, mobilising and empowering a nationwide network of Ocean Activists to take action and make a difference. We connect people power on the ground with businesses and changemakers to set policies and pass laws that focus on reducing, reusing and refilling, to shift our broken consumerist economy into a model that is sustainable, responsible and clean.

We are working with over 700 communities up and down the county to rid their local communities of plastic by becoming a Plastic Free Community. Over 2,400 schools are now signed up to become a Plastic Free Schools with the next generation leading the way. Over 140,00 ocean activists are out and about every week cleaning up our beaches, river banks and parklands with our Million Mile Clean. We’ve removed almost 400,000kg of plastic pollution from the environment. We recognise individuals and businesses for their outstanding, innovative work in the plastic free space through our annual Plastic Free Awards. And we are pressuring government to adopt new policies that will stem the tide of plastic washing into the ocean and rivers.

And we’re not done yet. Because Plastic Pollution is still a huge threat, with the UK producing 5 million tonnes of plastic waste a year, including 15 million single-use plastic bottles a day. We demand an end to Plastic Pollution on UK beaches by 2030, and we need your voice, energy and enthusiasm to get there.

Help us end plastic pollution

Take action to end plastic pollution today, by demanding your local representative stands up for the Plastic Bill

Act now

Take part in the Million Mile Clean

Join or run a clean and you can help raise awareness of the plastic pollution crisis and hold polluters to account, by sharing what you found with our Brand Audit.

Get involved

Past campaign successes

Message in a Bottle: Only half the plastic bottles we use in the UK are recycled, and each mile of the UK’s coastline is littered with over 150 plastic bottles. In 2018 we led a cross-party delegation of MPs and charities to deliver a petition with over 300,000 signatures calling for a UK-wide deposit return scheme (DRS) that would encourage people to leave single-use plastic bottles and drinks containers in the recycling economy rather than in the environment. The campaign saw the Government announce a plan for the introduction of a scheme, a huge step forward. But there is still work to do…

Return to Offender: During 2020 we struggled to run cleans because of lockdowns and social distancing rules. But that didn’t stop us taking action. Our Return to Offender campaign encouraged individuals to collect plastic pollution during their daily exercise, snap a photo of it, and share it on social media to call out the businesses’ production of plastic waste, and put pressure on Government to drive forward on key plastic pollution policies to stop it. The evidence gathered fed into our 2021 Brand Audit, a published report where we analysed and called out the worst plastic offenders to spotlight the need for change.

Mermaid Tears: In 2009 we ran a campaign to encourage sign up to Operation Clean Sweep, an initiative to raise awareness of resin pellet loss in plastic production and encourage businesses to adopt and implement its principles to minimise pellet waste impacting the marine environment and harming wildlife. Since our Mermaid Tears campaign, a total of 298 UK plastic product producers have pledged their commitment.

No Butts on the Beach: Cigarette butt waste is a significant contributor to marine plastic pollution. Over the past decade we have run a series of stunts and protests to call for local authorities to create designated beach smoking zones with effective, well-managed cigarette butt bins, as well as litter control measures and public information to minimise cigarette waste.

Systemic change is urgently needed to end the pollution swamping the land and ocean. Businesses need to take responsibility for their polluting products and transition to models of reduction and reuse. Legislation such as an ‘all-in’ deposit scheme needs to be introduced urgently and governments must hold these companies to account.

Surfers Against Sewage