One of the UK’s leading marine conservation charities is calling on volunteers to lead or join beach and river cleans this autumn.

Surfers Against Sewage’s Autumn Beach and River Clean takes place between 20-28th October with the aim of mobilising 15,000 volunteers from coastal and inland communities to help the charity clean 400 beaches and 60 rivers.

Since its launch in 2011, the project has seen over 28,000 volunteers remove 80,000kg of marine plastic pollution (the equivalent of over 19,500 bin bags) at 932 Autumn Beach Clean events.

This year for the first time Surfers Against Sewage has introduced river cleans in a bid to stop plastic pollution before it reaches our coastlines. This has been developed in partnership with British Canoeing. Taking into account the length of the longest river in the UK (the Severn) and its average speed, it is estimated that a piece of litter dropped upstream could reach the sea in less than 44 hours.

The Autumn Beach Clean has long been a staple of every ocean enthusiast’s diary and this year we are moving inland to our rivers for the first time. We want to tackle the problem of pollution further upstream and highlight the direct link between all UK towns, villages and cities and the ocean around us.

The scale of this clean – the biggest across the UK – will provide us with vital data to inform the Governments decisions on a new deposit return scheme. We will be able to specifically show the range of bottles and cans ending up polluting our islands, which need to be included in a new scheme.

Ben Hewitt

Director of Projects & Campaigns, SAS

Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)

Earlier this year, after pressure from Surfers Against Sewage and numerous other environmental charities, the UK Government announced that a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) would come into place in England. This means that consumers will soon pay a small fee when buying drinks in bottles or cans which they will get back after returning the container.
A recent Surfers Against Sewage report found that “local authorities across England could save up to £35 million every year if a DRS for drink containers was introduced”.

Since the initial announcement, there have been questions raised as to what type and size of drinks containers will be accepted and this has led to a consultation being planned for later in 2018.

For this reason, SAS will be using the Autumn Beach and River Clean to identify and monitor the types of drinks containers found on our beaches and then recycle as many as possible. The data collected from this will then be supplied as part of the consultation to ensure a comprehensive DRS is put into place.

Every Beach and River Clean Leader will be provided with a monitoring form to record containers found along with all the usual beach clean equipment.

Individuals can find their nearest beach or river clean or volunteer to lead their own at or by emailing [email protected]. All Beach and River Clean Leaders will receive a step-by-step guide and all of the equipment needed to organise their cleans free of charge.

The charity is teaming up with Greggs, the Environment Agency, Ecover, British Canoeing, Parley and REN Clean Skincare to make it the biggest Autumn Beach and River Clean yet.