Thousands Take in Part in #ReturnToOffender Exposing The Digital Dirty Dozen


Between 22nd April-22nd May, thousands of you joined the #ReturnToOffender campaign to challenge big brands on the volume of plastic and packaging pollution found on beaches and other wild spaces.

The results have revealed that just 12 big brands are responsible for over half of the UKs plastic and packaging pollution. The Dirty Dozen look remarkably similar to our 2019 Brand Audit, with Coca-Cola yet again identified as the worst polluter out of 207 brands, responsible for 15% of the plastic and packaging waste recorded.

Over 30 brands directly responded to your digital action, nine of which were part of the ‘dirty dozen’. Despite a small number of brands highlighting the action they were taking to reduce their plastic production; the majority of responses simply blamed the general public without acknowledging the systemic and plastic reduction strategies that businesses must adopt to protect the environment and address this plastic pollution crisis.

Alongside the action directed at big businesses, we are also asking the UK government to introduce an ‘all in’ comprehensive Deposit Return Scheme and Extended Producer Responsibility by 2023 to ensure manufactures are responsible for 100% of the costs of their plastic waste management.

As lock-down restrictions lift and we are able to return to our most-missed environments we are already seeing a vast increase of plastic and packaging pollution on UK beaches. This has further highlighted the sheer scale of single-use plastics being pumped onto the market and into public hands without sufficient recycling systems to contain and control the ‘wave of waste’.

The SAS ‘post-pandemic pollution poll’ revealed the main actions the public want to see in order to tackle the issue. The results ranged from education on the impacts of plastic to a reduction in plastic production.  As the UK emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital that we ‘build back better’ and ensure that big business is held truly accountable for the full life-cycle of their products and the pollution they cause.

Amy Slack, Head of Campaigns at Surfers Against Sewage says: “Anti-littering campaigns will be set for further failure unless the root causes of plastic pollution are addressed through a radical change in our approach to materials and recycling systems. Big business continues to put profits ahead of preventing plastic pollution and we urge them to deliver fast and meaningful action today to protect the planet.”

You can read the full results and more in Issue 1 of #ReturnToOffender Express HERE: