Plastic Free Awards celebrate the heroes of the environmental movement protecting our planet from plastic pollution

  • Marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage and the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation hold the world’s first Plastic Free Awards.
  • Award winners include Lewis Pugh, United Nations Patron of the Oceans; youth campaigners Ella & Caitlin McEwan, who successfully petitioned for the removal of plastic toys from fast food kids’ meals; and Sir David Attenborough for his services to Planet Ocean, influencing the world to take action on plastic pollution.
  • Judges include Autumn Watch presenter Gillian Burke; author and broadcaster Lucy Siegle; Olympic gold medallist Helen Glover; and Richard Walker of Iceland Foods.
  • Awards highlight those who have made a huge impact on the plastic-free movement, with the help of hundreds of public nominations.

Surfers Against Sewage holds the UK’s first ever Plastic Free Awards in Bristol, celebrating the unsung heroes leading the fight against plastic pollution.

The Plastic Free Awards

We were delighted to host these prestigious new environmental awards, founded to recognise and celebrate the remarkable campaigners, entrepreneurs, community leaders, volunteers, youth activists and influencers leading the fight against plastic pollution from the beach front to the front benches of Parliament.

Famous names on the first judging roster included the likes of television presenter Gillian Burke, multi-gold medal-winning Olympian Helen Glover and revered environmental journalist Lucy Siegle.

The awards were designed to recognise and celebrate the groundswell of community awareness and action on the issue of plastic pollution over the last two years, particularly since the screening of David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet II’ and the launch of Sky’s ‘Ocean Rescue’.

Broadcaster and Plastic Free Awards judge Gillian Burke said: “The tide is slowly turning in the fight against plastic pollution and now, more than ever, we need to be empowered to help kick our single-use plastic habit.  Celebrating the heroic efforts of campaigners, volunteers and communities who have stepped up to the challenge is one way to inspire us all into being the change we’d like to see. Massive congratulations to award winners!”


Whether it’s cleaning up the environment, redesigning our relationship with plastic, innovating new products and materials or freeing where we live from single-use plastics, we designed awards to commend each area – with a total of 12 accolades handed out on the night. Categories included the likes of ‘Best Plastic Campaign’, ‘Plastic-Free Hero’, and ‘Youth Plastic Pioneer’.

However, the most prestigious award, named the ‘Sir Malcolm Walker Award’, was bestowed on one overall winner and the person deemed the biggest influencer on plastics over the past two years, Sir David Attenborough.

We presented winners with incredible trophies created and donated by acclaimed contemporary artist Kurt Jackson.


  1. Plastic-Free Venues & Events – Boston Tea Party – Boston Tea Party is a familiar and well-loved cafe chain in Bristol and the South West and in 2018 they became the first UK cafe to ban single use coffee cups.
  2. Schools Champion – Damers First School – Protecting the environment is at the heart of the school with an eco-ambassador in every class. Last year the children went to Westminster to speak with Michael Gove about the importance of an all in Deposit Return Scheme.
  3. Small Business Award – Rapanui – They go above and beyond in all environmental aspects and do so whilst delivering excellent clothing. All the energy they use is from renewable sources, and the water discharged from the dying processes is treated, so it’s clean enough to drink. Then there is plastic. None of their products contain plastic. And none of their packaging is plastic either.
  4. Plastic-Free Community – Plastic Free Penzance – This was the first community in the UK to be awarded SAS Plastic Free Communities status. It has gone on to use its work to inspire and motivate not only businesses, schools, organisations and individuals in its own community, but those around the whole UK and internationally.
  5. Plastic Production Re-Innovation – Flexi-Hex – Flexi-Hex is a great new innovation which totally removes the need to use single use plastic packaging (Bubble wrap and Inflatable Air Sacs) for protecting surfboards bottles furniture and other fragile industrial products.  Flexi-Hex is simply made from recycled paper and is totally recyclable and biodegradable.
  6. Youth Plastic Pioneer – Ella & Caitlin McEwan – At just 10 & 8 years old, these sisters started the ball rolling with their campaign against free plastic toys at McDonalds and Burger King – their petition has attracted over 500,000 signatures.
  7. Reduce & Reuse Award – City to Sea – Refill Campaign – One of the reasons people are hesitant to refill their bottles is that they don’t know where to do this so the refill campaign has created an app which shows locations people can go to refill their water bottles for free. Any business with a publicly accessible tap can join and the campaign already has over 20000 locations!
  8. Sports Champion – Lewis Pugh – Lewis is UN Patron for the Ocean and legendary cold water swimmer! Lewis has measurably raised awareness of the issues facing our ocean including plastic pollution through his swim expeditions.
  9. Best Plastic Campaign – Eco Elle – Ella Daish – Ella has been campaigning tirelessly to get the big brand period care companies to remove plastic from their menstrual products. When Ella found out that conventional pads have the same amount of plastic as four plastic carrier bags she started a petition to change this. The petition now has over 192k signatures and it was partly due to her that both Tesco and Sainsbury’s launched plastic free tampons and pads.
  10. Plastic-Free Hero – Will McCallum, Greenpeace – Greenpeace Ocean Campaigner and plastic pollution activist, Will authored the hugely popular book How To Give Up Plastic.
  11. #TooCoolForPlastic Champion – Matt Downes, Iceland Foods
  12. Sir Malcolm Walker Award – Sir David Attenborough – collected by James Honeyborne, producer of Blue Planet II


Iceland Foods Managing Director, IFCF Trustee and Plastic Free Awards judge Richard Walker said: “It was a fantastic night celebrating so many talented and committed environmentalists! Well done to all the winners, and to everyone who entered the Plastic Free Awards. We are thrilled to have helped establish these awards to highlight the great work that is being done by so many to tackle the scourge of single-use plastic. We are making progress and invite everyone to play their part in protecting the planet from plastic pollution.”

Surfers Against Sewage would like to thank the Plastic Free Awards sponsors – the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, the Environment Agency and Code Zero. The charity would also like to thank Kurt & Caroline Jackson, the Jackson Gallery, and the Plastic Free Awards judges Gillian Burke, Ben Fogle, Lucy Siegle, Sian Sutherland, Liz Bonin, Richard Walker, Dr Paula Owen and Helen Glover. Special thanks to the incredible winners and all who entered