A new report from UK ocean conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) reveals the top 12 companies responsible for over 70% of branded pollution 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 annual Citizen Science Brand Audit released today (23 August 2022) identifies the same offenders every year, making a mockery of their supposedly ambitious sustainability pledges.
Brands are failing to adequately reduce packaging, switch to reuse models and enable recycling. SAS says the top three polluters, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and McDonalds, are responsible for a staggering 39% of all branded pollution found.
Coca-Cola takes top spot
For the third year, Coca-Cola has taken the top spot. This follows growing public pressure for systems change and recent announcement of 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.
The Dirty Dozen continue to pollute UK landscapes with plastic packaging which floods into the ocean, fuelling ecological harm and jeopardising the health of people and wildlife.
To highlight the rampant pollution blighting the environment and ocean, Surfers Against Sewage has commissioned a 100mx400m projection of packaging waste stacked up against the iconic White Cliffs of Dover (main image).
Tobacco and branded litter
Citizen scientists across the country found 10,843 branded items in total, linked to 264 companies. A shocking 28,727 items were recorded overall, including both branded and unbranded items.
Tobacco products accounted for over 15% of all pollution recorded and over a quarter of all unbranded pollution recorded was cigarette butts.
Cigarette pollution is extremely detrimental to the soil and beaches, with the vast majority of butts made from single-use plastic and containing hundreds of toxic chemicals once smoked.