Citizen Lead Litter Report Shares Biggest Plastic Polluters

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Citizen Lead Litter Report Shares Biggest Plastic Polluters


The second annual Planet Patrol Litter Report is out and these are the brands that are still littering our shores.

Georgina Wilson-Powell

Mon 1 Feb 2021

Planet Patrol's second annual single use plastic litter report is in and while a massive increase in citizen science, and a huge willingness by us consumers to track and pick up litter, is a heartening win for the planet, the amount of litter - and the companies responsible for it, are depressingly familiar.

In the UK in 2020, Planet Patrol found that these are the five biggest polluting brands (in order):

  1. Coca-Cola
  2. McDonald’s
  3. Budweiser
  4. Cadbury
  5. Walkers

PPE - our new scourge of single use plastic, according to Planet Patrol's 2020 report only accounts for 1.5% of single use plastic litter recorded in the app.

The top 5 most littered items in the UK in 2020 are:

1. Plastic packaging
2. Drinks cans
3. Plastic bottle
4. Plastic fragment
5. Cigarette butts

The top four most littered items in the UK in 2020 are sadly all items that are easily recycled, which the app says shows the UK's commitment to reycling and single use plastic reduction is massively lacking.

can and plastic rubbish on the beach

Plastic Patrol has seen a 167% increase in users since 2019

Planet Patrol has seen a huge 167% increase in usage since 2019 with 43,187 pieces of crowdsourced data recorded in the Planet Patrol litter tracking app throughout 2020.

Lizzie Carr, Founder of Planet Patrol, has commented: “The results presented in our 2020 Impact Report highlight not only the severity of the single-use plastic crisis we face in the UK, but also a real lack of progress and prioritisation of environmental issues by our Government.

Further delays to debates on the new Environment Bill prove that now, more than ever, we need citizens and businesses to show support for these new policies, to put pressure on Government to take them seriously and start implementing them as soon as possible.

The increase in the number of people collecting data on the Planet Patrol app shows a huge willingness from the general public to roll up their sleeves and to take action, but without improved waste management infrastructure and a standardised recycling system across the UK, the litter issue will never be resolved.

Litter clean up already costs the taxpayer £660 million every year and, with the amount of plastic the UK throws away set to increase by over a million tonnes by 2030, we need to see some radical action."

Download the Planet Patrol 2020 Litter Report

Want to have a closer look? Download Planet Patrol's litter report here

Download 2020 Litter Report here

Recommendations from Planet Patrol’s Impact Report include:

  1. Strengthen Government’s ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ system by going beyond packaging to include all single-use items and cover full net costs of management and cleaning up of waste. A second consultation was postponed in 2020 and has yet to take place, with no confirmed date announced.
  2. An ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme that includes all material types and sizes, not just bottles and cans. Again, the proposed scheme’s second consultation was postponed in 2020 and has not yet taken place.
  3. Public consultations regarding views surrounding ‘on-the-go’ recycling and waste disposal facilities for better insight into what is needed.
  4. Improvements to the provision of ‘on-the-go’ recycling and waste disposal facilities by local authorities and national government, including educational resources on what can and cannot be recycled, as well as nationwide consistency in what is collected for recycling.
  5. A full ban on sales of single-use carrier bags, as Planet Patrol deems the current charge ineffective. Claims that the 5p charge has been “hugely successful” are misleading, since they only take into account the decrease in single-use plastic bag sales and fail to include the 1.6 billion ‘Bags for Life’ sold in the top 10 UK supermarkets in 2019. More than 30 countries already have total bans on plastic bags in place, so we have no excuse. To avoid swapping one material for another, this needs to include single-use plastic and paper bags, as well as low-density polyethylene ‘Bags for Life’.

Data uploads to the Planet Patrol app by members of the public are what make Planet Patrol’s work possible.

Download the free app now to contribute to our global database of evidence so that they can help industry and government transition to a circular UK economy.