We’re Swimming in Plastic

Swimming in Plastic 1

Surfers Against Sewage Release ‘Swimming in Plastic’ video to call on the UK Government for action on DRS

  • Surfers Against Sewage have released a video calling on the UK government to end delays to the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) as part of their Swimming in Plastic campaign.
  • The video, featuring Penzance synchro group Out of Sink, highlights the plastic pollution problem, but also a solution to the overproduction and mass consumption of plastic: an all-in DRS.
  • An all-in DRS would stop 8 billion containers from entering the environment every year.
  • The UK government is continuing to delay plans of implementing the long- awaited scheme, which was first announced by ministers in 2018.
  • The Swimming in Plastic campaign followed the charity’s 2023 Brand Audit Report launch in Penzance, which saw the Jubilee Pool filled with a day’s worth of plastic water bottles used by the town.
  • Plastic Free Penzance is now amongst hundreds of SAS communities across the UK calling on the government to take action.


An all-in Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), a scheme including metal, plastic and glass containers, offers the UK an alternative to choking our planet with plastic. In Norway, a Deposit Return Scheme captures 97% of the country’s single-use bottles. And SAS estimates that in the UK a DRS would capture at least 55% of the plastic packaging flowing into the ocean produced by the top polluting companies.

Over the past 7 years, governments across the UK have been promising to deliver a DRS. However, after years of delay from government and strong push back from producers and retailers, the future of the scheme becomes increasingly uncertain.

An all-in DRS would ensure producers pay for the pollution they create and take pollution from our streets, beaches and ocean. However, it has become a political tug-of-war across the UK. Despite over 40 countries across the world delivering similar schemes with great success, the UK government continue to delay

Izzy Ross, Campaigns Manager at Surfers Against Sewage, added: ” A deposit return scheme is one of the most effective ways to reduce the plastic pollution the scourges the ocean. DRS schemes are highly successful in other countries. There’s no reason that this wouldn’t be the case in the UK. Unfortunately, the government continues to stall on plans to implement a DRS. This dither and delay is condemning our ocean, beaches and rivers to a further 8bn extra pieces of plastic a year, as plastic gradually chokes these fragile ecosystems to death.”

At the end of 2022 SAS released its national action plan to end plastic pollution, outlining the following demands:

  1. Legislation that ends the production and consumption of non-essential single use and polluting plastics.
  2. Legislation that ensures effective resource use and waste
  3. Business models that are focused on reduction and
  4. Cultural change across

Rachel Yates, Community Lead at Plastic Free Penzance, said: ” We see the effects of plastic packaging pollution every day in Penzance. On the beaches, in green spaces and on our streets. We can take action as a community to clean up and stop single use at source through our work with businesses, schools, organisations and Penzance Council. But we also need system change at a UK and government level. We need the government to step up to end plastic pollution, now.”

For press enquiries and images, please contact [email protected] or call 01872 553 001


About Surfers Against Sewage

Surfers Against Sewage is a national ocean conservation and campaigning charity that inspires, unites and empowers communities to take action to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife.



About Plastic Free Communities

Plastic Free Communities exist to free where we live from single-use. They bring people together on a journey to tackle avoidable single-use plastic, from the beach and green spaces all the way back to the businesses and brands who create it. It’s not about removing all plastic from our lives. It’s about kicking our addiction to throwaway single-use plastic, and changing the system that produces it. Join up and free where you live from single-use, one plastic bottle at a time.



Notes to Editors

Swimming in Plastic video: Swimming In Plastic – YouTube

Swimming in Plastic campaign: We’re “Swimming in Plastic” – Surfers Against Sewage (sas.org.uk)

2023 Brand Audit Report: Brand Audit Report (2023) – Surfers Against Sewage (sas.org.uk)