This autumn our friends at Surfers Against Sewage have been busier than ever with a twin-pronged attack on the plastic pollution that blights our beaches.
In mid September their Message in a Bottle campaign, in partnership with 38 Degrees and the Marine Conservation Society, culminated in SAS delivering over a quarter of a million signatures to 10 Downing Street to call for action on ocean plastic pollution with a UK-wide deposit return system. A public consultation was opened by the Secretary of State for the Environment and will run through until October 30th, and SAS CEO Hugo Tagholm gave evidence in support of a Deposit return System (DRS) to the Environmental Audit Committee at the Houses of Parliament last week.
“We welcome the government’s announcement to gather evidence to support the introduction of a deposit return system in England. We believe that it’s no longer a question of if deposit systems work, but rather which model will work for England, and the rest of the UK. There is irrefutable evidence that DRS is good for resource efficiency, recycling and protecting our marine environment from plastic pollution. Society’s plastic addiction has reached crisis point and we need to fast-track proven and effective systems including deposit returns to protect our oceans and beaches from the scourge of plastic pollution. The time for deposit returns in now.”
Hugo Tagholm, CEO, Surfers Against Sewage
With an almost unbelievable 38.5 million plastic bottles being used in the UK every single day and only a little over half of them finding their way into recycling schemes, the scale of the problem is enormous. A scheme such as a DRS is clearly required, and hopefully would have a similar impact as the plastic ban charge.
In the meantime though, plastic continues to enter and persist in the marine environment. This is where we can all do our bit (above and beyond signing a petition), by getting out and joining one of Surfer’s Against Sewage’s Autumn Beach Clean events during the last week of October (half term), and by simply picking up litter that we find on the beach as we walk back after a surf. SAS have run 183 beach cleans so far this year, removing 10,967kg of plastic litter from the shoreline.
To find an upcoming beach clean near you, head to www.sas.org.uk and click In Your Region in the top menu to select your area from the drop-down menu. This will bring up an interactive map that you can filter to show upcoming events, or scroll down to see a list of beach clean locations and dates. Every little helps, and it’s a great way to spend an hour on the sand giving back to the environment that we all enjoy so much. In the words of Hugo Tagholm: