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Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) campaigners took over 800 plastic bottles found on one UK beach to the Plastic Packaging Industry conference in Birmingham this week.

SAS attended to highlight the deepening marine litter crisis to over 300 exhibitors and over 4,500 visitors including major brands such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo UK and GlaxoSmithKline. The industry as a whole has the power to make vital decisions to help reduce the growing volume of plastic packing finding its way into our seas and washing up on our beaches causing devastating impacts to wildlife, habitats and visitor enjoyment. SAS is setting out a clear challenge to the plastic packaging industry to increase action in combatting marine litter.

Almost 2000 pieces of marine litter items are found for every 1km of beach in the UK Plastic packaging items such as bottles, drink caps and product wrappers are amongst the most prevalent items, with over 600 found for every 1km of the UK’s beaches*. Items such as plastic bottles may take up to 1000 years to break down in the marine environment.

SAS is challenging the plastics packaging industry to commit to 4 simple solutions to help reverse the marine litter crisis.

1. To increase visibility of anti-littering message on their products and in advertising in suitable and engaging ways for each consumer group.

2. To take the initiative and begin using less harmful packaging to ensure products can be broken down quickly and naturally without putting wildlife at risk.

3. To promote recycling and/or reuse wherever appropriate.

4. To support community beach litter initiatives or anti-litter projects.

SAS delivered this challenge to key figures in the industry including constructive dialogue with Packaging Federation CEO, Dick Serle. SAS campaigners also took part in an open debate with recognised leaders in the plastic packaging industry such as Stuart Lendrum (Head of Packaging & Design, Sainsbury’s), Dr. John Williams (Head of Materials for Energy & Industry, NNFCC) and Tom Heap BBC Panorama presenter on the issue of marine litter. Sessions SAS participated in included ‘Is extended producer responsibility a responsible concept?’ and ‘Sustainable packaging: saving the planet or costing the earth?’ where SAS’s campaign message resonated strongly in calling on the industry to do more as a whole to combat the issue of marine litter.

SAS believe that by taking action at all levels – consumers, government and industry – we can stem the tide line of trash.

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