Hardly a day goes by for most of us when we don’t come across litter: on the street, in a park, on the beach. Now consumers are calling out the brands they see as ultimately responsible for these bits of rubbish – on social media.
Scores of people have been sharing photos of discarded waste using the hashtag #isthisyours, tagging in the companies behind the packaging. The campaign appears to have been kick-started by Greenpeace, which has shared a series of its own photos of plastic litter using the same hashtag in the past.
Taking to Twitter, consumers have been tagging brands including Starbucks, Oral B, Red Bull, McDonald’s and Walkers in their photos of litter.
Writing on Twitter, one person said they had found so much litter in a single afternoon they couldn’t even carry it all. Another suggested people were “drinking microplastics” for the sake of company profit.
A study published last year, which analysed 187,000 pieces of rubbish from coastlines around the world, claimed that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé were found to have produced the majority of plastic found on beaches. Break Free From Plastic, a campaigning organisation made up of more than 1,000 groups, including Greenpeace, audited plastic from 239 cleanups across 42 countries and identified these brands as the worst offenders. However, of all the waste found, only 65% had clear and recognisable consumer branding.
A separate 2017 study from the Marine Conservation Society said that the most common litter found on beaches was bits of plastic and polystyrene, followed by crisp and sweet wrappers, lolly sticks, sandwich packs and glass bottles.
Earlier this month, a 50-year-old Thunderbirds toy from a cereal packet was found intact on a Cornish beach, while last October, a Fairy Liquid bottle washed up on a Somerset beach that was also least half a century old.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently considering introducing a bottle deposit scheme in the UK, where shoppers get through an estimated 14 billion plastic drinks bottles, nine billion drinks cans and five billion glass bottles a year.