Coca-Cola and Pepsi among 12 brands responsible for 70% of branded litter

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are among the 12 companies said to be responsible for 70% of branded packaging litter in the UK, according to a survey by ocean conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage.

Companies including PepsiCo and McDonalds were among the dozen drink and snack brands found to be most responsible for packaging pollution.

The data recorded over the past 12 months saw almost 4,000 citizen science volunteers collecting litter across 13,000 miles of the UKs coastline, countryside, streets, rivers and green spaces.

Nearly half of the packaging collected was also found to be part of a deposit return scheme, in which consumers are charged an additional deposit fee when they purchase a drink in a single-use container that can be redeemed when the drink is returned for recycling.

In response to the data, Surfers Against Sewage is calling on the government to introduce an all-in deposit return scheme covering drinks packaging of all sizes and materials an an incentive for consumers to recycle.

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“Year after year, our citizen science brand audit reveals the same huge companies are responsible for the packaging pollution choking our environment,” Surfers Against Sewage chief executive, Hugo Tagholm said.

“Despite public sustainability commitments, these dirty brands are failing to take meaningful action to stop this harm. We cannot stand for this blatant greenwashing any longer. Systemic change is urgently needed to end the pollution swamping the land and ocean.”

He added: “Businesses need to take responsibility for their polluting products and transition to models of reduction and reuse.”

In response to the data, a Coca-Cola spokesperson said: “We share the goal of eliminating plastic waste from the environment and acknowledge that The Coca-Cola Company has a responsibility to help solve this issue.

“Today, all of our packaging is 100% recyclable and our aim is to get more of it back so that it can be recycled and turned into new packaging again.

“It’s disappointing to see any packaging being littered and that’s why we fully support the introduction of a well-designed deposit return scheme, which we know from results in other countries will encourage people to recycle, rather than litter or throw away.”

A PepsiCo spokesperson added: “We are committed to reducing the plastic we use across our entire portfolio. Earlier this year we announced plans to eliminate virgin fossil-based plastic in all crisp and snack bags, delivered by using 100% recycled or renewable content in all packets by 2030.

“We also believe that deposit return schemes can provide a critical source of high quality, clean recyclate which is why we continue to be supportive of well-designed schemes.”

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