Exposed: The Dirty Dozen Filling Up the Ocean with Plastic Pollution


Today we’re exposing the Dirty Dozen companies responsible for a whopping 70% of branded packing pollution found across the UK: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonalds, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Mondelez International, Nestlé, Tesco, Red Bull GmbH, Suntory, Carlsberg Group, Heineken Holding and Mars.

The Results

Thousands of you have been collecting packaging pollution through our Million Mile Clean over the last year uncovering over 264 companies fuelling the packaging pollution crisis and filling up rivers and seas. A shocking 28,727 items were recorded overall, including both branded and unbranded items.

There has been little change in this year’s Dirty Dozen making a mockery of their supposedly ambitious sustainability pledges. Brands are failing to reduce packaging, switch to reuse models and enable recycling. As the top three polluters, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and McDonalds are responsible for a staggering 38% of all branded pollution found.

For the 3rd year running, Coca-Cola has taken the top spot. Thanks to the power of people pressure Coca-Cola recently announced a new reusable packaging target, aiming for at least 25% of all beverages worldwide to be sold in refillable or returnable glass or plastic bottles and containers by 2030. We’ll be watching carefully to see if words are put into action.


Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage, said:

Year after year, our Citizen Science Brand Audit reveals the same huge companies are responsible for the packaging pollution choking our environment. Despite public sustainability commitments, these dirty brands are failing to take meaningful action to stop this harm.

We cannot stand for this blatant greenwashing any longer. 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.”

We’re so sick of seeing the same old culprits polluting the ocean we decided to let everyone know about it. So we’ve called out the Dirty Dozen on their polluting ways all by naming and shaming them all over the White Cliffs of Dover.

Click image to watch video

What can be done?

We’re calling on companies to end their harmful pollution by taking responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products, reducing their packaging and adopting circular business models. Its time big polluters ACT NOW to end their polluting ways.

We are also demanding that government introduce an ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for drinks containers of all sizes and materials including glass, not just small containers classified as ‘on-the-go’. Deposit Return Schemes are already used effectively across Europe with 90% of containers prevented from becoming pollution in many cases. Of the items monitored from this year’s Dirty Dozen, it is estimated that a massive 55% could be captured through an ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme. We’ve been waiting since 2018 since DRS was first announced yet it will be at least 2024 before DRS is introduced based on current government announcements. That’s a total of 48 billion extra containers chocking our rivers and seas that could have been captured. The government is simply kicking the can down the road.