UK – Marine conservative charity Surfers Against Sewage has revealed a total of 12 companies are responsible for 70% of the branded packaging pollution found in the UK.

In a new study, the charity named Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonalds, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Mondelez International, Nestlé, Tesco, Red Bull GmbH, Suntory, Carlsberg Group, Heineken Holding and Mars as the companies most likely to have their name branded on UK litter.

Data published by Surfers Against Sewage on 23 August showed that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and McDonalds are the most commonly littered brands, accounting for 38% of all branded pollution found.

The collections covered a variety of locations including beaches, rivers, forests and streets. In total, 28,727 items were collected, of which 10,843 (37.8%) could be identified by a particular brand.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and McDonald’s ‘responsible for 39% of UK’s branded packaging pollution’

Surfers Against Sewage Chief Executive Hugo Tagholm 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.”

The charity is urging these brands to take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products, reduce packaging and introduce circular business models to help end plastic pollution.

While Coca-Cola has taken the top spot, it 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.

Responding to Coca-Cola’s efforts, Surfers Against Sewage states in its report: “Congratulations on winning the biggest loser award for the third year running. We’re pleased to see public pressure is making you commit to models of refill. Will your words turn into action?”

According to the charity organization, there has been little change in this year’s so-called ‘Dirty Dozen’, the charity’s annual survey identifying the firms creating the most packaging pollution.

It also called on the UK Government to introduce an ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for beverage containers of all sizes and materials, including glass.

Deposit return schemes are already used in many places in 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 55% could have been captured through an ‘all-in’ DRS.

The charity said that despite a DRS scheme first being announced in 2018, it will be at least 2024 before it is introduced based on current government announcements, resulting in an estimated total of 48 billion extra containers entering the UK’s rivers and seas.

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