2017 – Our Year in Review!

This year you have donated money to fund our work, without which none of the below would be possible.  You’ve come along to beach cleans, with your friends, your children and your extended family.  You’ve picked up litter, preventing it from causing any more damage to the animals and plants that live in the water.  You’ve signed our petition calling for Deposit Return Systems.  You’ve downloaded your Individual Action Plan to reduce your single-use plastic consumption.  You’ve watched our powerful Wasteland film.  You’ve liked, commented and shared.  You’ve supported your local community in going Plastic Free.  You’ve received water quality notifications from our Safer Seas Service.  You’ve bought bamboo coffee cups, reusable water bottles and SAS hoodies from our shop.  You’ve got your local school children involved in our education program.  Thank you.  It is all only possible because of your support.

2017 in numbers

  •  1,393 – Beach cleans
  • 135 – Regional environmental volunteers
  • 132 – Plastic Free Community Leaders
  • 34,779 – Beach clean volunteers
  • 127,000 – Volunteer hours contributed worth approximately £1,126,260
  • 97.2 – Tonnes of plastic pollution removed from our beaches
  • 29,108 – Single use plastic bottles recycled
  • 132 Schools visited – 12,179 pupils spoken to
  • 21 – Members of Parliament as part of our All-Party Parliamentary Group
  • 318,823 – People have signed our petition calling for a single use bottle deposit scheme
  • 91 – Communities working towards going Plastic Free
  • 2 – Plastic Free Communities Approved – Penzance & Alderney


Highlights from the year

Beach Cleans

Our brilliant Big Spring Beach Clean and our awesome Autumn Beach Clean are now the biggest beach cleans in the UK!  Together, we’ve removed nearly 100 tonnes of plastic pollution from our coastlines which in turn stops items such as discarded fishing net entangling seals and dolphins and bottle tops and plastic lighters from ending up as food for sea birds.  It’s also great to see the whole community come out in support of their local spot with volunteers from 9 weeks old to 91 years old attending!   It wasn’t just beaches this year either, the river Avon and Lake Windermere were also cleaned.  We were also delighted to have some high profile guests attend, including the Green Party’s former leader Nathalie Bennett and Environment minister Therese Coffey.  Attending a beach clean and seeing for ourselves what lurks amongst the sand, such as crisp packets from the 1970s is always a humbling experience, helping us reflect on our own contribution to plastic pollution and helping inspire us to make small and very possible changes.  Join our growing movement when you head to the coast this holidays and do a #minibeachclean


Regional Reps

It’s been an amazing year for volunteering with 135 Regional Reps now representing your area all around the UK!  Back in October we asked you to vote to help us win funding from the EOCA to help us deliver 2 new training events for our existing Reps along with 50 new Reps we are going to recruit in 2018, which you did! And we won! We’re really excited to be able to grow and develop our Regional Reps programme even further, supporting these passionate volunteers to run beach cleans, deliver school talks, inspire community volunteers and encourage their local towns and cities to go plastic free!


Our Education Programme

With new recruit Ellie our Education Officer on board, our schools engagement has been going from strength to strength.  We have spoken to over 12,000 school children this year, running Ocean Schools pop up classrooms in rockpools in the south-west, inspiring anti-litter action plans in playgrounds from Bristol to Newcastle and recently we have launched our new Plastic Free Schools programme!  With an overwhelming amount of interest in schools all over the UK going plastic free, we had to launch an emergency fundraiser to help fund the project.  Thank you to all those who donated on Giving Tuesday, helping us raised over £5,000 for creating Plastic Free Schools!  We can’t wait to see no more single-use plastic cutlery in canteens and no more single-use water bottles on sports day.  We’re committed to working with the next generation to inspire them to Be the Change they want to see and look forward to seeing this project develop next year.


Plastic Free Coastlines

Our biggest campaign of the year and it’s spreading like wildfire!  We launched Plastic Free Coastlines (PFC) back in July with our impactful Wasteland film, voiced by Oscar winning actress Imelda Staunton, with the aim of inspiring and empowering individuals and communities across the UK with the know-how to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics.  Since its launch, PFC has also inspired and influenced decision makers at a high level, which can be seen through PFC motions being passed at the County Council level.  The community level of the project helps to inspire towns, villages and cities by completing a 5 step objective plan set put by SAS to work towards achieving ‘Plastic Free Coastlines approved’ status.  The project has been a huge success and is now being implemented across the UK, Republic of Ireland and Portugal.  The first PFC approved location was Penzance on the 4th December, shortly followed by the Isle of Alderney, with 91 more communities also working towards the goal!


Beach Clean Boxes

With everything your community needs to run a beach clean, our Beach Clean Boxes have been hugely popular and are now housed by Regional Reps all around the country.  If you want to borrow one to run your own clean, get in touch with your local Rep.  They’ve proved especially useful for our volunteers to take along to events.  Look our for our exciting new Schools Beach Clean Boxes launching next year!


Deposit Return Systems (DRS)

With a staggering 38.5 million single use plastic bottles used in the UK every single day, the time is now for a massive change.  Sadly only half of these are recycled, so it’s no surprise that many end up on our beaches and in our oceans.  In September, we delivered an incredible 267,554 signatures to 10 Downing St in September calling for DRS to be re-introduced to the UK.  Today, we welcome the publication of the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) report ‘Plastic bottles Turning Back the Plastic Tide’ laying out the findings and recommendations from their inquiry into plastic bottle pollution in our oceans and wider environment.

The EAC responded to the evidence presented by various cross-sectorial experts. We are delighted that their findings have concluded with a recommendation that the ‘Government introduces a legislated Deposit Return Scheme for all PET plastic drinks bottles.’ This is a fantastic result for our campaign! We are another huge step forward  towards a UK-wide deposit return system! This provides a very powerful precursor as the Government prepares to assess the same evidence on deposit return systems as part of the National Litter Strategy – Voluntary & Economic Incentives Working  Group.  Read the latest here.

Water Quality

Our Safer Seas Service is the only national free real-time water quality app which now covers 330 beaches. The app is free to download or to access via an online interactive map on our website.  This year we issued 353,329 reduced water quality alerts helping families make an informed decision about where and when to use the water.  If you’re heading to the beach after heavy rainfall, it’s an especially good idea to check the Safer Seas Service to help you keep safe.  We are currently developing a new phase for the Safer Seas Service to expand reach, usability and function.



We’re proud to represent  your voice in our All Party Parliamentary Group which is currently the only marine environment focussed APPG.  Our APPG consists of 21 MP’s and continues to provide us with an essential platform to raise serious environmental threats and marine conservation campaigns directly with politicians and senior civil servants. It also seeks cross-sectorial solutions to protect our coastal environment from marine litter, water pollution, habitat destruction and more

Here’s to even more in 2018! Thank you for all you do.