Carve Classic: The Plastic Age

Carve Classic: The Plastic Age

Join us as we delve into the Carve Classic archives for some all time trips and interviews. Steve England caught up with Chris Hines MBE, a founding member of Surfers Against Sewage. Originally featured in issue 190.

Chris Hines, the only surfer we know with an MBE (for services to the environment), examines the source and solutions to the ocean plastic problem. It is a fight we have to win.

Plastic. It’s everywhere, from the moment you hit the alarm on your smartphone to the cleaning of your teeth at the end of the day with your plastic toothbrush and toothpaste from a plastic tube. Most of us will touch, see or interact with plastic hundreds of times a day, me included. It’s the current norm and one of the results is the almost unbelievable level of plastic pollution in the oceans.
Back in 2006 in an essay I wrote for Andy Hughes’ brilliant book Dominant Wave Theory (*1). I did a little beach clean and then looked at how all of those bits of plastic were, in some way, connected to my life … and it’s the same for all of us. We are all deeply embroiled in this plastic problem and we are all going to be involved in the solution to it. Many people are doing lots of individual actions but that’s a tiny percentage of us and this plastic crisis isn’t going to be overcome on the fringes and, I would argue, the solution is about far more than plastic. We need mainstream change.
If plastic pollution is everywhere it is nearly outweighed by the number of people and organisations who are on the plastic campaign trail and the campaigners are on fire with Surfers Against Sewage leading the charge. Awareness is at an all time high. The population want this sorted but ultimately a long-term solution to our pollution of the planet will require a different attitude and one that a lot of people, especially business aren’t going to want to hear:

We have come to believe that we can, and should be able to, have as much of anything we want, whenever we want it and don’t even think about the consequences. Consumption has been disconnected from any moral compass and we’ve lost our way.
The economic structures of the neoliberal western world are all based around growth. More, more, more! Research from Bioregional shows that if all seven billion inhabitants want to consume like the average North American then we would need five planets. For the average European it’s three. (*2). The planet does not have that carrying capacity. It doesn’t work. The growth addicts have even stolen the term “sustainability” and come up with “sustainable growth”! On a single planet there is no such thing!
There are massive powers stacked up to keep selling us this version of the world, to keep selling us more. But much of it is a hoax, brought to you by advertising agencies that make you feel inadequate because you don’t have the latest phone, surfboard, bike or whatever. And those agencies are just working for the companies who want to sell you more and more. With built in obsolescence and constant development, the moment you buy something its already out of date and we’re constantly inventing another hundred things that we all must have. Our relationship with plastic is just a symptom of a life in discord.

One quick plea for climate change: Whilst the plastics issue is important we also need to remember climate change. It’s not as visible and whilst everyone is fixated with plastic, climate change is not getting as much attention. Remember it’s the same people who are giving you climate change who are giving you plastic pollution. Those good old oil companies!
When Surfers Against Sewage started back in 1990 our primary aim was to stop the 400 million gallons of raw sewage that the Dirty Man Of Europe (the UK’s environmental nickname in the 80s and 90s) crapped out into our coastal waters every single day. Mixed in with that sewage were countless plastic panty liners and condoms. Ironically having the plastic panty liners helped, as it made the sewage slicks more visible. The history of those first ten years of Surfers Against Sewage shows what can be achieved and in what timescale. The infrastructural change to go to from 400-million gallons crude, to all continuous sewage discharges receiving at least secondary treatment and tertiary treatment for two thirds of that took 15 years and a massive engineering project worth £5.5 billion. The difference between 1990 and 2005 (and now) in terms of the sewage in our coastal waters is like chalk and cheese. Porthtowan Beach used to be known as ‘Porthtampon’ (we even managed to get ‘Porthtampon’ into a House of Commons Select Committee report) with hundreds of panty liners and condoms coming in with the slick of sewage every day. When they weren’t getting stuck in your hair or wrapped around your legs or leash, they’d dry and blow up the road and onto the forecourt of the village shop. Thankfully they and the sewage have now 99 percent gone.

But in some ways we had it easy. There was tough European legislation such as the EC Bathing Water Directive (1976) and the EC Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (1991) to act as a focus and a reference point, a stick with which to chase the polluters with. The UK government was doing its best to wriggle out of its obligations and hence the need for the SAS campaign of the 1990s. Make no mistake that was still a very tall challenge. Unbelievably the whole plastics problem has hit without any relevant legislation being in place. Neither the EC Waste Framework Directive (1975) EC Hazardous Waste Directive (1975) really took plastic into account, although maybe there could have been a legal challenge over plastic waste being hazardous , but yes you got it, no-one saw this coming! So this is challenging and complex work to even have the legal, legislative tools with which to force everyone to the table. Unfortunately many of the big players will simply not engage until they are forced and that force has to have teeth that can bite.
SAS have already helped secure some vital bits of legislation Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015 and a government commitment to a national deposit return system for some plastics but there are still more needed before all the legal sticks are in place. We need government to match the level of commitment and pace being shown by the campaigning organisations. We need to be cutting off the tide of plastic pollution now. Personally I think it is an outrage when a government says it will sort excessive plastic packaging within 25 years! I can see the argument of time needed to change legislation and infrastructure, but 25 years … come on! The supermarket Iceland and other industry leaders are doing it now and blazing the trail. There is already a massive waste management infrastructure in the UK and the vast majority of waste, plastic included, is either recycled or collected through household collections and disposed of to landfill or incineration, but it will need more work and investment. This isn’t going to be easy but it can be done. Again back to the sewage there were certain companies Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water and Wessex Water who pushed the boundaries and changed the game.

Fundamentally we need to have a wider understanding of our roles as citizens of this planet.

Ocean plastic is an emergency and of global importance. Imagine turning up at an intergalactic planetary hospital Accident and Emergency Department and Planet Earth and The Oceans are screaming: “Save me! Do something, this HURTS! and the Governments/Doctor saying: “Hmmmm let’s do some consultation on this.” Reality is the whales are washing up full of plastic crap like some self-sacrificing suffragettes, the albatrosses are screaming and dying.
The danger of too much consultation is that the British Retail Consortium, the soft drinks industry etc. and the plastic producers along with big oil will all lobby hard to delay it, legally challenge it and ultimately hope that the whole infernal issue just goes away.

But let’s just take a step back and look at this whole plastic issue. Is plastic in itself an evil? It’s safe to say that plastic has had a profound affect on us as a species as well as the planet and there have been a lot of positive benefits as well as the downside. Many of us reading this today will have benefitted from the medical uses of plastic in life saving medical equipment. The easy to use contraceptive pill packaging that showed the day of the month helped revolutionise women’s ability to take control of when to have children and control of their lives. The use of plastic in cars and other forms of transport helps reduce weight and therefore reduce the CO2 footprint and hence has a beneficial effect on climate change. There are many other examples.
As surfers and people who have an interest in surfing, climbing, cycling, exploring and general outdoor activities plastic has benefitted us. Plastic will have played a massive role in opening up these sports and activities due to decreases in weight and increases in durability. There was even a 1969 surf movie called The Fantastic Plastic Machine!
So plastic is not in itself necessarily bad, it’s the way we use and abuse it.
Research (now known as internet searches) tell you the first totally synthetic plastic, Bakelite, was made in 111 years ago in 1907. The brilliant Radio 4 series Plastic Fantastic (*3) (listen to all three parts its brilliant) said that the first plastic was invented in a contest to find a replacement for the ivory for elephant tusks used to make billiard and snooker balls. Importantly it was cheap and therefore commercially viable. One web search shows: “…it had no molecules found in nature…” Now if ever there was a reason for caution that should be one. If something is totally unnatural then “Proceed with caution!” signs should have been flashing up. Off went the scientists working hard to develop other plastics such as polystyrene, polyester, polyvinylchloride (PVC), and others. The oil industry must have loved it! Not only did their liquid black gold create energy by burning (again another unnatural activity that has helped land us in a right old pickle with climate change and air pollution) but they could now make hundreds of thousands of products from it.

Of course there were a few inconvenient obstacles to remove such as hemp – the perfect natural, renewable alternative. Henry Ford of Ford Motors made car panels out of hemp and even planned to run them on biofuel. So the plant was demonised and linked to its relative marijuana and heavy lobbying by the likes of chemical giant DuPont saw the 1937 Prohibitive Marijuana Tax Law that made not only marijuana illegal but also the wonder plant hemp. The DuPonts of this world were joined by William Randoph Hearst, a media magnate who owned 75 percent of the newspapers in the USA, and wanted all of the paper to be sourced from his logging companies and not hemp. (Anything sounding familiar?) Just think what the world and our oceans would be like if hemp had been the material used in the mass expansion of our consumer world…
The plastic and oil industry came out post Second World War with a clear playing field and very few critics. Everything was white, shiny and clean! Big production was king. The consumer age was upon us and off it ran completely out of any restraint or understanding of the long-term planetary impacts. Our world became plastic. As Polystyrene (and X-Ray Spex) sang on the Germ Free Adolescents album (*4):

I drove my polypropolene
Car on wheels of sponge
Then pulled into a wimpy bar
To have a rubber bun

And watched the world turn day-glo
You know you know
The world turned day-glo
You know
Oh-oh

The X-rays were penetrating
Through the laytex breeze
Synthetic fibre see-thru leaves
Fell from the rayon trees

And watched the world turn day-glo
You know you know
The world turned day-glo
You know
Oh-oh

Find it and play it LOUD!

After leaving SAS in 2000 I worked as Sustainability Director at the Eden Project and originated the Waste Neutral concept. This followed the normal waste hierarchy of “reduce, reuse and recycle” but had an additional element of buying back a weight of products made from recycled materials that was equal to the residual waste that Eden sent to landfill, or to be recycled. This had two effects: Firstly it encouraged a reduction in all consumption as reducing the weight of materials sent to be recycled meant we had to buy less recycled product. Secondly it gave value to the recyclates, which helps pull them out of the waste stream and turn them into a resource. If something has a value it isn’t thrown away. This is similar to the circular economy now being pushed hard by the likes of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, but first conceived in 1966 by Kenneth Boulding in an essay “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth” often cited as the origin of the phrase “circular economy”. (*5)

We need to be realistic and understand that the opposition to positive change is huge. The UK plastics industry alone has an annual turnover of over £23.5 billion and employs over 170,000 people. The global plastics market is projected to reach $586.24 billion US dollars by 2021 and the plastics industry is supplied by the oil industry.
These companies aren’t going to give up easily! They’re going to fight this every step of the way. In fact they don’t see reduction in plastic at all, they see… yes you guessed it… GROWTH! Big oil companies are seeing their market for combustion engines contracting so they need new markets for the base product and that means more plastic. Right now there will be hundreds if not thousands of people looking at new markets and new products that can be made of plastic.
We need a marked change in the way we consume in general and we need to redefine our relationship with plastic and we need to own that change as the mass population. I recently spent two days talking to over a thousand students at a school in Geneva. They haven’t waited for others to act. They’ve removed all the plastics from their food outlets. They call it: “The new norm!” The planet and its oceans need a “New Norm!”
I don’t want this to feel negative and I am an optimist. The campaigners are doing an amazing job and it feels like we could be on the cusp of turning this whole plastic issue around but have no doubt there is a long hard way to go yet. To solve this is arguably more complex than solving sewage as it’s such a wide issue with so many players and products involved, but it can be done. I will continue to pay my subs to the environmental groups and would strongly urge you to do the same (How can any surfer not be a member of SAS or your countries equivalent? I’ve paid my membership for 28 years now and will continue to do so till the day I die). I will continue to sign the petitions, to talk to others, to say ‘No’ to things I don’t need or often even want and love and look after the things I have. Cherish them, value them and when you’re done try and find another home for them or dispose of them in the right way. I will try and do my bit and would urge everyone to do the same.

Fundamentally we need to have a wider understanding of our roles as citizens of this planet. We need to think about and understand our footprints. No one is perfect and reality is we can’t be but we can think and challenge ourselves and live a more examined life. This doesn’t have to suck the joy out of our lives but can become a quiet element of how we live. We need to think of what I refer to as: “The Deal”. For the majority of us, we are lucky. We’re warm, we’ve got homes and we’ll eat today and we get to live here on this amazing planet and do amazing fun things. For us as surfers we even get to GO SURFING! We are the luckiest! The deal is we give back, we make a difference with our lives and we tackle the plastic problem as part of the wave of activism that helps us tackle all of the world’s problems. And if we can commit to that deal then it’s only fair that we demand that government and business change … NOW. Step up and lead! Commit to the take off! We’ll be hooting you all the way!

Chris Hines was a founding director of SAS leading the campaign from 1990 to 2000, Director of Sustainability at the Eden Project and a special advisers to the Minister for Environment, amongst other things.

*1. Dominant Wave Theory by Andy Hughes, Booth-Clibborn ISBN 1 86154 284 4 Hughes, A. (2007). Dominant Wave Theory. (1st ed.). London: Booth Clibborn Editions.
*2. https://tinyurl.com/y7jop9ad
*3 BBC Radio 4 Plastic Fantastic Professor Mark Miodownik explores our love/hate relationship with plastic. https://tinyurl.com/y8ytbmn5
*4 Polystyrene and X-Ray Spex, The Day the World Turned Dayglo. The Day The World Turned Day-Glo” / “I Am A Poseur” (March 1978: EMI International, INT 553) – No. 23 UK Singles Chart[41] From the album Germ Free Adolescents (November 1978: EMI International, INT 3023) – No. 30 UK Albums Chart[41]
*5. As early as 1966 Kenneth Boulding already raised awareness of an “open economy” with unlimited input resources and output sinks in contrast with a “closed economy”, in which resources and sinks are tied and remain as long as possible a part of the economy.[2] Boulding’s essay “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth” is often cited as the origin of the phrase “circular economy”.[2]

Ocean Activists Challenge Water Companies

Ocean Activists Challenge Water Companies

Environmental campaigning charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) publishes new Water Quality Report exposing ongoing sewage pollution issues in our ocean and rivers. In 2019, SAS has tracked and reported on 1,784 sewage pollution events along the English coastline.

Despite recent fines, Southern Water was responsible for the highest number of sewage discharges in 2019, with 571 pollution events recorded. o In 2019, the charity estimates that up to 10% of days in the UK’s summer bathing season were ‘lost’ due to the impact of sewage pollution, based on the precautionary health advice. o Up to 80% of sewage pollution events take place outside of the official bathing season when many people still actively use the water, particularly those that require winter conditions, such as surfers.

31 October 2019, Brighton: Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) activists gathered on Brighton beach on Saturday 2nd November in a protest against water companies on the levels of sewage they continue to discharge into England’s rivers and ocean. The protest marked the release the SAS Water Quality Report, which evidences and illustrates the threat of sewage pollution at some beaches and rivers.
The issue of poor water quality is returning to public consciousness and has been highlighted nationally by reports issued by both environmental charities and regulators. These reports have shown that water companies are performing consistently badly, with pollution events increasing and causing damage to local environments, wildlife, and putting human health at risk. Our rivers and oceans are at now risk of being treated like ‘open sewers’ as underinvestment, population and climate pressures converge.

Surfers Against Sewage has tracked and reported on 1,784 sewage pollution events along the UK coastline in 2019. Based on precautionary health recommendations, which advise against bathing for up to 48 hours after a sewage pollution event, this equates to an estimated 10% of bathing days lost to sewage discharges.

This year, Southern Water received record fines of £126 million for serious failures in their sewage treatment works and for deliberately misreporting its water quality performance. Despite these record fines, Southern Water was still responsible for the most sewage pollution events in 2019, with over 571 reported sewage pollution events.

SAS believes that people should be always be adequately informed and protected when they are using the sea and rivers for recreation. People should not face elevated risks of illness because of poor water quality due to sewage pollution generated by water companies. Where there is an unavoidable risk due to unusually extreme weather conditions, people should always be made aware of sewage pollution in real-time.

Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage says: “Damning evidence has emerged this year showing just how prevalent sewage pollution impacts are along our coastline and rivers. Surfers Against Sewage has been campaigning for almost thirty years on this issue, with some great successes and progress in that time. However, the spectre of sewage pollution seems to be returning and the time for more radical action to protect our ocean, waterways and water users has come. Water companies must put the health of planet and people before the interests of shareholders.”

Surfers Against Sewage has tracked and reported on 1,784 sewage pollution events along the UK coastline in 2019. Based on precautionary health recommendations, which advise against bathing for up to 48 hours after a sewage pollution event, this equates to an estimated 10% of bathing days lost to sewage discharges.

This year, Southern Water received record fines of £126 million for serious failures in their sewage treatment works and for deliberately misreporting its water quality performance. Despite these record fines, Southern Water was still responsible for the most sewage pollution events in 2019, with over 571 reported sewage pollution events.

SAS believes that people should be always be adequately informed and protected when they are using the sea and rivers for recreation. People should not face elevated risks of illness because of poor water quality due to sewage pollution generated by water companies. Where there is an unavoidable risk due to unusually extreme weather conditions, people should always be made aware of sewage pollution in real-time.

Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage says: “Damning evidence has emerged this year showing just how prevalent sewage pollution impacts are along our coastline and rivers. Surfers Against Sewage has been campaigning for almost thirty years on this issue, with some great successes and progress in that time. However, the spectre of sewage pollution seems to be returning and the time for more radical action to protect our ocean, waterways and water users has come. Water companies must put the health of planet and people before the interests of shareholders.”

For more info visit sas.org.uk

Coca Cola and PepsiCo Litter Leaders

Coca Cola and PepsiCo Litter Leaders

Research reveals Coca Cola and PepsiCo responsible for 25% of packaging pollution found on UK beaches

· The UK’s biggest ever UK packaging pollution brand survey has found a small number of parent companies are responsible for the majority of packaging pollution found on UK beaches and rivers
· Surfers Against Sewage has submitted the full data to government and calls for transparency from the UK’s biggest polluters to disclose the quantity of their plastic packaging production
· Photos of the brand audit beach cleans available here: 

The UK’s biggest ever nation-wide survey of packaging pollution found on UK beaches and rivers has revealed that the vast majority of UK waste found strewn across the coastline is the responsibility of just a handful of companies – with Coca Cola and PepsiCo named the worst offenders.

The figures, unveiled by ocean conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage, have been submitted to government as campaigners call for transparency from the UK’s ‘biggest packaging polluters’.

It follows the UK’s largest ever nation-wide survey of packaging pollution found on Britain’s beaches and rivers, conducted by more than 45,000 volunteers during SAS’s recent Big Spring Beach Clean series.

· The full report is available here

The results show that the vast majority of UK branded waste found strewn across the coastline is the responsibility of just a handful of parent companies, with 10 parent companies accounting for well over half the total number of items.

During the 229 cleans in April, 49,413 pieces of pollution were picked up, of which 20,045 were branded, with Coca Cola producing the largest proportion of branded items (15.5 per cent). PepsiCo made 10.3 per cent, followed by Mondelez International, which owns Cadbury, at 6.8%, McDonalds 6 per cent and Nestle 5.5%.

Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage says: ‘Our survey of packaging pollution on beaches and rivers clearly shows that big business is responsible for the scourge of plastic and packaging pollution.

Just ten companies were responsible for over half of the packaging pollution recorded. These companies must invest more in the redesign of packaging, alternative ways of product delivery and ramping up packaging re-use to truly turn the tide on the plastic pollution that is sweeping our world.

People and planet need these companies to change how they do business. At the moment, the cost of this waste is left in the hands of local councils, tax payers and, finally, the environment.”

The research has been submitted to the UK government as evidence in the consultation underway on plastic packaging and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in a bid to make producers (parent companies) take more responsibility for the costs of dealing with their packaging.

Under the present EPR guidelines, producers ‘that handle over 50 tonnes of packaging annually and have an annual turnover over £2 million’ should be accountable for the cost and system for dealing with the packaging they create and sell.

But, currently, parent companies do not share information on the quantity of packaging they produce, hiding the scale of their damage to the environment – and paying less than 10% of the costs of dealing with it. At the moment, the cost of dealing with this waste is left in the hands of local councils, tax payers and, finally, the environment. New EPR regulation will mean producers become accountable for 100% of these costs, but it is critical that there is transparency in regards to how much packaging is being produced, for new packaging responsibility regulation to be effective.

Hugo Tagholm said: “Producers must offer full transparency and disclosure on the amount and type of packaging they use in order that new extended producer regulation can be truly effective. Our environment is in peril and plastic pollution is a clear indicator that business as usual just won’t do.

“This is not a littering issue – business needs to provide radical and responsible new systems that drastically reduce their impact on our oceans, forests and nature at large.

The analysis of the information collected was undertaken by independent environmental consultancy Eunomia Research & Consulting.

Full information on the research and analysis methodology can be found here

The Top 10 Parent Companies (Branded Pollution Only)

The Top 10 Brands (Branded Pollution Only)

During the analysis, research was divided into two levels; firstly, the brand of the product, and, secondly, the parent company who owns the brand.

A total of 20,045 branded items were submitted over the course of the Big Spring Beach Clean campaign. 496 of the brands had only one or two items associated with them and were not mapped to their parent companies. The remaining 303 brands were mapped to a total of 171 parent companies, the top 50 of which accounted for 92% of the branded items.

While using citizen science as a method of data collection allows us to amass large amounts of data in a cost-effective manner, the data collected has some limitations associated with it owing to the lack of oversight regarding how data are collected and recorded. Inconsistencies in the data gathering process are an accepted characteristic of citizen science projects, and these can introduce an unavoidable level of uncertainty to collected data.

In Defra’s guidance, packaging is defined as ‘any material used to hold, protect, handle, deliver and present goods. This includes packaging for raw materials right through to finished goods to be sold or being sold.’

The Big Spring Beach Clean

The Big Spring Beach Clean

Surfers Against Sewage calls for action from mountain summits to city streets, from riverbanks to coastlines, to help stop plastic polluting our ocean

The Big Spring Beach Clean is the UK’s biggest beach clean event, mobilising over 30,000 authentic community volunteers at locations nationwide 
This year, mountain cleans are included for the first time, alongside beach, river and city locations

Evidence shows that over 70% of plastic pollution comes from the land, meaning that we can all be beach clean volunteers wherever we are

Alongside removing plastic from the natural spaces around us, volunteers will conduct the UK’s biggest ever Plastic Pollution Audit to help further track and tackle plastic pollution to stop it at source

From the 6th to the 14th of April, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), in conjunction with the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, will mobilise more than 30,000 volunteers at 500 beach, river, city and mountain locations across the UK in its Big Spring Beach Clean: Summit to Sea. SAS is calling for inspired community leaders from all walks of life to help remove and track plastic pollution in their local area.

The Big Spring Beach Clean is the UK’s biggest coordinated beach clean activity, which has brought together over 150,000 volunteers over the last five years, contributing an incredible two million hours of volunteer time to protecting and conserving our beaches for everyone to enjoy. These vital community events not only remove dangerous plastics from our unique and precious coastal environment, but also indicate where action needs to be taken further upstream to reduce the leakage into and impact of plastics on our ocean and beaches.

A recent report showed that plastic makes up 70 per cent of all the litter in the ocean, and if no action is taken to reduce its input, then it is forecast to treble within the next ten years[1].
Almost a decade ago, SAS pioneered the Plastic Pollution Audit at our beaches to identify which plastics were washing up on our tidelines. This year SAS is conducting the research again to map and monitor plastics, and signpost where urgent action needs to be taken to reduce plastic pollution.

Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage says “The Big Spring Beach Clean is an annual celebration of our beaches, uniting thousands of like-minded volunteers to take action for our ocean. We are excited to be working with the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation to invite anyone, anywhere to lead a community clean-up with us to tackle plastic pollution. We can all be ocean guardians from our summits to the sea, from our river banks to city streets. Register your event today.”

Richard Walker, Trustee of the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation said “Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation and Surfers Against Sewage share a common passion for tackling the scourge of plastic head on, and we know that this is an issue that resonates with an ever-growing number of people. Our Iceland stores are at the heart of high streets up and down the country and we recruit our store colleagues locally, making us a true community retailer. We are delighted to be backing SAS in encouraging individuals and organisations throughout the UK to help make a difference to the quality of their local environment through The Big Spring Beach Clean.”

SAS hopes to engage a wide range of people to take part in protecting the ocean from summit to sea.

Individuals can find their nearest clean or volunteer to lead their own at www.sas.org.uk or by emailing beachcleans@sas.org.uk. All Clean Leaders will receive a Big Spring Beach Clean kit, a limited edition SAS insulated Hydro Flask, a step-by-step guide to organizing their clean, along with support and guidance from the SAS Team in organising their event.

We would like to thank the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, HydroFlask, and Community Partners; Surfing England, British Canoeing, Canoe Foundation, The Wave Project and the Outdoor Swimming Society

For more info on how to get involved click here.

No deal Brexit threatens UK Beaches – SAS

No deal Brexit threatens UK Beaches – SAS

Pre EU water quality leglislation and it’s subsequent enforcement the UK was branded “The dirty man of Europe” with a government that had no intention of addressing the polluted seas. Things couldn’t return to those times could they? Well today engineers are worried about a massive increase in coastal coastal development and a lack of investment from water companies in their infrastructure which threatens a new coastal sewage pollution crisis. Meanwhile scientists are also flagging the rise in new antibiotic resistant super bugs and the Beach Bum Survey has linked surfing in sewage and gut colonisation by antibiotic resistant bacteria. It could all spell very bad times ahead for surfers. Especially if environmental standards are dropped as the UK leaves the EU. “Today leading environmental charities, including Surfers Against Sewage, have come together to warn that leaving the European Union without a deal could be catastrophic for our clean beaches, bringing back the threat of sewage and pollution filled seas, and big companies making vast profits from polluting our beaches. Analysis by leading environmental charities shows that a ‘no deal’ could have terrible consequences for the coasts and oceans and leave the UK: * with no access to an independent body that can uphold and enforce environmental laws * without a fully-functioning system to monitor and ban dangerous chemicals * facing spikes in air pollution caused by traffic chaos at ports and borders The analysis also shows that that Defra, one of the government departments most heavily affected by Brexit, would find it very difficult to cope with the ramifications of no deal. According to the Institute for Government it has published 29 technical notices on ‘no deal’ (the joint most of any department), with the National Audit Officer (NAO) raising concerns in September 2018 around its lack of readiness. Hugo Tagholm, SAS CEO says “Surfers Against Sewage has a proud legacy in successfully campaigning to improve water quality and protect our ocean, based on strong shared laws and cooperation. Water quality has improved from 27% of beaches meeting minimum bathing water standards 1990 to 97% today. No matter how we voted, none of us want to destroy the ocean and turn our beaches back in to a sewer. ‘No deal’ could mean that sewage pollution becomes a serious issue again at UK beaches, without the necessary authority, checks and balances to regulate it.” These improvements took place under the auspices of the European Union as a result of EU Directives, enforced when needed by the European Court of Justice with heavy fines. “Surfers Against Sewage has been at the forefront of water quality campaigning in the UK for almost thirty years, campaigning to eradicate continuous discharges, strengthen the Bathing Water Directive, drive real-time water quality information and protect anyone and everyone using the sea. We have been steadfast in representing surfers, swimmers, sailors and all ocean enthusiasts who rely on a clean, safe and protected ocean. “Founded in 1990, the organisation was a visceral response to the sewage pollution crisis at beaches UK-wide that was literally making people sick. Raw sewage, pumped out continuously into beaches and rivers nationwide, was wreaking havoc on our shores. “This was the catalyst for our initial campaign and to this day remains embedded in the DNA of our charity. Campaigning with the backdrop of clear and powerful European legislation created a wave of positive change for our beaches and surf spots nationwide, dramatically impoving our water quality over the last 30 years. “These water quality improvements could be placed under threat with a potentially precarious and uncertain ‘no deal’, which could throw our environmental laws, regulations and enforcement into uncertainty “It’s now vital that we unite as a voice of the ocean to protect our proud and ongoing heritage in fighting for the beaches we love.”

Photos: @AdelGordon