BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 20 Oct '18

Surfers Against Sewage launches the UK’s biggest autumn beach and river clean

Main image credit: Ian Lean

If you’ve never taken part in a community effort to clean up your local beach or river, now’s the time to get involved.

From today (20) until 28 October, marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is organising its biggest autumn beach and river clean. 15,000 volunteers will clean 400 beaches and 60 rivers across the UK, tackling plastic pollution before it reaches our coastlines.

Three flagship events will coincide with the beginning, middle and end of the week. The event locations are a staple of SAS’s autumn beach clean series calendar and represent some of its strongest volunteer hubs from around the country.

‘The response this year is incredible with more than 100 new cleans led by volunteers totalling more than 460 – from Aberdeen to Amroth, Plymouth to Portrush. We are bringing people together on a journey to tackle avoidable single-use plastic from the beach and rivers all the way back to the businesses and brands who create it. Only together can we kick our addiction to throwaway single-use plastic, and change the system that produces it.’

BEN HEWITT
Director of projects and campaigns at SAS

Three Autumn events

Avon Gorge Clean, Bristol
Saturday 20 October, 09:30-12:30

SAS’s Bristol-based regional representatives are some of the most pro-active in the country; they hosted a record clean for the spring beach clean series with 131 volunteers. SAS director of projects and campaigns Ben Hewitt will also be there on the day.

Perran Sands Beach Clean, Perranporth
Saturday 27 October, 11:30-13:30

This will see the clean of the Perran Sands beaches from Perranporth to Penhale, a notorious stretch for the deposit of marine debris and plastic pollution. SAS CEO Hugo Tagholm will attend.

Longsands Clean, Tynemouth
Saturday 27 October,10:00-12:00

One of SAS’s most active volunteer hubs in the country, Tynemouth reps are expert clean organisers and held one half of SAS’s Ocean Camp events in 2018. Surfers Against Sewage community coordinator Jack Middleton with be there to help with the clean.

Plastics, cans and a DRS

This year river and beach cleans are more important than ever: the government is planning to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) – a system where every plastic drinks bottle and can could be recycled – in England and Scotland.

The scheme has been hugely successful in Norway and parts of the US, and has been the result of lots of campaigning by Surfers Against Sewage and others.

A DRS is a proven mechanism to trap plastic in the recycling economy rather than on our beaches and in the wider environment. A consultation is already underway in Scotland and the government will soon be consulting on the design of the English DRS system.

‘The scale of this clean, the biggest autumn clean across the UK, will provide us with vital data to inform the government’s decisions on a new drinks bottle Deposit Return Scheme. This is a proven mechanism to trap plastic in the recycling economy rather than on our beaches and in the wider environment. After our beach cleans we will be able to show the variety of drinks bottles and cans ending up polluting our beaches and rivers and need to be included in a simple inclusive system.’

BEN HEWITT
Director of projects and campaigns at SAS

SAS will be calling for it to be fully inclusive of all beverage bottle sizes and materials, to create a truly world-class and effective system that will protect the environment, create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and prevent littering.

SAS has provided all its beach clean leaders with a simple tool to use to list the different types of bottles they find on the beach. The evidence collected by the ‘citizen scientists’ will be collated by SAS and shared with the government as part of the consultations.