The Low-down on Plastic – EU and UK laws

Collins Dictionary recently announced “single-use” as its word of 2018, reflecting the surge in public awakening about the plastic pollution crisis. With 8—12 million tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year, leaching toxins into the land, our food and our bodies, serious action has been a long time coming!

With so much going on in the plastic sphere it can be hard to keep up and filter meaningful developments from wishy-washy statements. Here we’ll give you a rundown of where we’re at with plastic legislation in the EU and the UK, in plain English. Get ready for some news worth celebrating as well as a reality check about the challenges we’ll be facing in 2019.

Good News in the EU…

Let’s start with the EU, which took a significant step forward by introducing the Single-Use Plastics Directive in December 2018. After months of negotiations, the EU agreed on a ban for several single-use plastic items: cotton buds, straws, stirrers, balloon sticks, oxo-biodegradable plastics, plates, cutlery and food containers and cups made from expanded polystyrene – great news!

Side note: You may be wondering what on earth oxo-biodegradable means, and why items made from this type of plastic are being banned. If it’s biodegradable isn’t that a good thing? The thing is, oxo-biodegradable plastic breaks down faster than normal plastic when exposed to oxygen, but it’s still plastic and still breaks down into microplastics! Plus, it’s debatable whether they act any different to normal plastics when they’re in the ocean.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes required by the EU will mean that manufacturers (including top polluters like Coca Cola, Pepsico and Nestlé) will have to pay for the management, clean-up and awareness-raising measures for several single-use items, including cigarette butts and fishing gear, by January 2023. The same is true for wet-wipes and balloons by the end of 2024. EU countries will also be obliged to reduce post-consumption waste from cigarette filters – the most commonly littered item in Europe – which yes, contain plastic!


Other steps in the right direction include: product labelling about plastic content, appropriate disposal options and the environmental impact of littering, an option for EU countries to restrict the market for food and drink containers, and an obligation to ensure that by 2030 all beverage bottles are made from a minimum of 30% recycled content.

In December 2018 the European Commission also launched the Circular Plastics Alliance to strengthen the market for recycled plastics. Although prevention is always better than cure this alliance could be a positive step for making the most of all plastic currently in circulation and reducing littering.

The EU expect this Single-use Plastics Directive to reduce CO2 emissions by 3.4 million tonnes, avoid €22 billion on environmental damages by 2030 and save consumers up to €6.5 billion.

The EU is the first region to introduce laws to reduce plastic, thanks to the Break Free From Plastic movement, the open hearts and minds of certain EU officials, numerous other environmental campaign groups and consultancies, and everyone else involved in making this happen. This all feeds in to the EU’s wider Circular Economy Action Plan which was adopted in December 2015.

The not so good news….

Now for the not so good news about the EU plastics legislation… Weakened by plastic industry lobbying, legislation to reduce the consumption of food containers and cups is non-binding and vague. Rather than obliging EU members to commit to EU-wide targets and deadlines, it has been left up to national governments to “significantly reduce” consumption, with a hope that they will be ambitious and follow through. In this same vein, countries can choose to achieve reduction and Extended Producer Responsibility goals through voluntary agreements between industry and authorities. Will national governments step up to the challenge and will they do it fast enough?

We also saw a 4 year delay (2025 to 2029) in achieving a 90 percent collection target for drinks containers, and a 3 year delay (2021 to 2024) in making sure that plastic drinks containers have caps/ lids attached. What are they waiting for?

Image by John Cameron on Unsplash                                                         

What’s happening in the UK?

Now moving onto the UK government – which has a 25 Year Environment Plan, pledging to leave the environment in a better condition for the next generation. The concept of safeguarding the planet for our children has historically been referred to as ‘the Children’s Fire’ and it enabled our ancestors to live in relative balance with the natural world. Decision making around this concept is vital if we’re to shift from our current, wasteful system to a nourishing, closed-loop economy… so is the government backing up this statement with action?

The Resources and Waste Strategy & EPR

Last year the UK government drew up The Resources and Waste Strategy to ‘become a world leader’ in preserving resources, moving towards a circular economy and managing waste safely. Under the 2018 strategy the government aims to oblige retailers and producers of packaging to pay the full cost of collection and recycling, with penalties for packaging that’s difficult to recycle – like black plastic. Hopefully you’re sitting down for this next fact… at the moment 90 percent of recycling costs are covered by the taxpayer (that’s us!) whilst businesses pay just 10 percent!

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) moves responsibility from the consumer to the producer, encouraging suppliers and retailers to seriously reconsider the materials used and the lifecycle of their products. This tool is really vital in catalysing a shift away from plastics and other harmful pollutants, towards sustainable, non-toxic materials. It’s unclear whether EPR alone would prevent waste but in combination with a tax/levy on single-use plastic, modulated fees on varying materials and a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans, we could see real changes in consumption and waste habits. It’s great to see EPR finally on our government’s agenda!

Photo by Eva Dang on Unsplash

So when is this all going to happen?

In a similar fashion to the EU legislation around food containers and cups, the waste strategy is very vague with relaxed- or no deadlines. There’s a considerable amount of language like ‘consider’ and ‘try’ in the strategy, and the EPR plans are still reliant on a forthcoming consultation which leaves policies open to being watered down and delayed. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have already got EPR systems in place and the Scottish government plan to introduce a deposit return system by 2020. Packaging producers – who will pay for the DRS system – want it to be UK-wide but English government have moved the target from 2018 to 2023, showing a real lack of ambition and urgency about reducing resource consumption and pollution.

The plastic tax

At the end of 2017 we at City to Sea launched a petition calling for a single-use plastic levy at the point of sale for single use straws, coffee cups, pint cups, takeaway containers and cutlery, in order to see change around consumption behaviour across the UK. People seriously re-think their buying habits when they have to part with hard-earned money, and the 5p bag charge proved that even small levies are enough to seriously change habits. Nearly a quarter of a million people signed our petition, filling us with optimism and enthusiasm!

In mid-2018 the government ran a consultation on a plastic tax and received a record number of citizen responses, with one third of respondents having also signed our petition (thank you, thank you, thank you!). Despite a loud and clear display of public support for a levy or tax on avoidable single-use plastic, the government did not take any action. Instead, they will run another consultation in four years time about taxing manufacturers on the production of single-use plastic with less than 30 percent recycled content. We felt this move to be extremely weak and unacceptable in the face of public demand.


Recycling & Bio-plastics

More encouragingly, the Waste Strategy should legislate for UK-wide recycling specifications on materials, requiring all local authorities and waste operators to operate consistent, high-quality collections, including food waste. Currently bioplastics are not an option because there is such limited infrastructure to deal with them, but should the Waste Strategy legislate for industrial composting facilities UK-wide they may become a viable alternative to petroleum-based plastics.

UK government and the EU ‘want to be ambitious’ but with scientists warning that we have just 12 years to tackle climate change, the most recent developments lack immediacy and concrete action. Proposals must now translate into policy, and policy translate into action supported by adequate funding and resources. Once the UK has left the EU we’ll be relying on our government to seriously step up and be held accountable to their pledge to leave the environment in a better condition for the next generation.

Photo by MItodru Ghosh on Unsplash

As for the rest of the world…

In July 2018 the UN Environment and World Resources Institute found that 127 countries had implemented some form of policy for plastic bags and 23 had established some form of deposit-return system. 2018 also saw: the UK’s first National Refill Day for keeping Britain hydrated and preventing pollution from plastic water bottles, investment firm Circulate Capital raised $90 million to invest in waste collection infrastructure in Southeast Asia, two Australian supermarkets prevented 1.5 billion bags from entering the environment in three months by introducing reusable bags, and the Walt Disney Company announced that single-use plastic straws and stirrers will be banned at nearly all its theme parks by mid-2019.

There’s a lot of great movement happening, but we still have a long way to go. Knowing that there are so many individuals out there like you, like us, all wanting change, fuels the fire in our bellies to keep keeping on, to fight the good fight. And we hope that you, as part of that community feel the same and continue to lead the charge in your own home, office, town and countries!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ – Margaret Meade

By Jasmine Tribe, City to Sea’s Campaigns Co-ordinator

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2018 – a year of planet protecting, plastic-pollution campaigning!

As we sail into the new year, we thought it was a good time to reflect, take stock and share some of the incredible things that we’ve achieved together this year.

It’s fair to say 2018 was the year of plastic pollution – Blue Planet 2 led to widespread awareness of the issue and Collins Dictionary crowned ‘single-use’ the word of 2018. The wave of change has been rising over the past 12 months and we’re riding it, guns blazing into 2019!

Shipshape and Bristol Fashion

Flash back to 2014 when our founder, Natalie Fee wondered what would happen if she gathered together a bunch of activists, scientists, local organisations and campaigners after seeing islands of plastic flowing down the river Avon in our home city of Bristol. By early 2018 we were a small but dedicated team of 4, committed to finding practical, postive solutions to single-use plastic and sucessfully getting retailers to ‘Switch the Stick’ – preventing 478 tonnes of plastic at source.

We’re now a team of 20 and growing, creating award-winning campaigns and doing a pretty good job of getting people and businesses off single-use plastics and switched on to reusables. Starting an organisation is difficult and growing it comes with a whole new set of challenges, like running out of cutlery in the office kitchen… Ok, maybe that’s not the best example, but  it’s true to say that we’ve been building the ship while we’re sailing in it – so with all the exciting changes happening as we move into the next chapter, we’ve appointed our first ever SEA-eo, to help steer the ship into the future.

Our plastic pollution campaigns have reached millions!

Thanks to your support this year – we’ve reached more people than ever before, raising awareness of some of the most important challenges we face today and even better – the planet protecting solutions that make a difference.

You’ve signed petitions, written to the Government, donated your hard-earned cash, watched and shared our campaigning videos, downloaded (and used) our Refill app, taken to the streets to sign-up over 15,000 Refill Stations and supported our toilet tour. 

Nearly a quarter of a million of you signed our 38 degrees petition for a levy on single-use plastics. The government had record numbers of responses  to their consultation on a plastic tax and nearly 1/3rd of those were people who signed our petition.

You’ve had your voice heard – and most importantly, you’ve passed on single-use plastic and switched to reusable alternatives, preventing countless tonnes of plastic from landfill – or worse, making it’s way into our precious oceans.


On a personal level, it’s been an insane year for our founder Natalie Fee, who was not only nominated as one of Nesta and the Observer’s 50 New Radicals and crowned Bristol 247’s ‘Woman of the Year,’ but was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Science by UWE Bristol, in recognition of her campaigning to protect the oceans from plastics and other avoidable wastes. We couldn’t be prouder!

Natalie Fee on being a New Radical

It's been an incredible year for us at City to Sea! We couldn't have done it without our amazing founder, Natalie Fee, who was this year nominated as one of Nesta and the Observer's 50 New Radicals!"Being a New Radical fills me with an incredible sense of hope that together, we are creating a better future." 🙏

Posted by City to Sea on Saturday, 22 December 2018

The Refill Revolution IS goING global!

Thanks to our amazing volunteers, partners and community, our award-winning Refill campaign has grown beyond our wildest expectations and next year, we’re going global. There is no way we could achieve so much without the support of our partners Robeco, Water UK, the national water companies and  Chilly’s Bottles.

There are now more than 15,000 Refill Stations across the UK with chains like Pret, Starbucks, Costa and thousands of incredible independent businesses signed up. Thanks to our incredible volunteers there are now Refill Schemes in 127 towns and cities across the UK and our app has been downloaded over 90,000 times! That’s 90,000 tiny waves being turned into a tsunami of positive change.  A tsunami that is now taking Refill onto a global stage.

If all of our Refill Stations are used just once a week, we’re saving more than 5 million bottles at source every year!

Plastic Free Periods

A massive 2.5 million tampons, 1.4 million pads and 700,000 panty liners are flushed in the UK each year (MCS 2015) – many of them making their way into our oceans and waterways.  This is why it’s crucial we involve people from all walks of life in the conversation around reusable period products so we can begin to reduce these shocking numbers. This year, thanks to the support of people like you, we’ve successfully reached a whopping 1.3 million people with our Plastic Free Periods campaign. 

A highlight for us, was Natalie and Jasmine speaking about Plastic Free Periods on BBC Woman’s Hour. In the 3 days following this feature sales of Honour Your Flow‘s reusable pads increased by 300%!

Sales of tampons and pads have dropped £5.6 million since 2016 and we’re seeing the big brands feel the pressure. Our founder Natalie Fee explains how TampaxAlways and Lil-lets are responding to the changing tide.

It’s Bog Standard

In November we launched our ‘Bog Standard’ campaign, in a bid to raise awareness of the almost 10% of plastic found on our beaches, which is coming directly from our toilets. We are literally flushing the health of the oceans down the pan.

Our new public engagement campaign will raise awareness of the dirty dozen and educate people on what should be going down our toilets – only the 3Ps – pee, paper and poo!

We’ve been trialling a sticker campaign – on toilet doors in public spaces, Universities, cafes and restaurants in the Anglian Water region to help change flushing behaviour so that people know what they should and shouldn’t be flushing where it matters. To coincide with World Toilet Day we ran a Toilet Tour across Brentwood, Chelmsford and Cambridge and bared (almost) all in public to raise some eyebrows and awareness of the issue. Watch this space for our campaign rolling out across the UK next year.

We couldn’t have done it without your support so we wanted to say a MASSIVE thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. Here’s to 2019!

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Lil-Lets take a look at the good, the bad and the bloody greenwashing.

Sales of tampons and pads have dropped £5.6 million since 2016, Tampax have released a menstrual cup and more and more people are switching on to the amount of plastic in conventional period products. We’re seeing the big brands feel the pressure and in this latest video, our founder Natalie Fee explains how Tampax, Always and Lil-lets are responding to the changing tide … and advises how not to get your period pants in a twist. 🌊

Help us make a difference

A massive 2.5 million tampons, 1.4 million pads and 700,000 panty liners are flushed in the UK each year (MCS 2015) – many of them making their way into our oceans and waterways. This is why it’s crucial we involve people from all walks of life in the conversation around reusable period products so we can begin to reduce these shocking numbers. This year, thanks to the support of people like you, we’ve successfully reached a whopping 1.3 million people through our Plastic Free Periods campaign. Awareness is rapidly increasing around the impact that plastic period products are having on our environment and reusable items are becoming more normal! So thank you to everyone who champions the cause and helps spread the word.

As we see more and more brands start to market ‘plastic-free’ messages, it’s important to champion the innovators and highlight the greenwashers. Companies like Natracare have been innovating for decades, promoting the use of organic and natural products, much more preferable than the bleached alternatives which also contain plastic. We’ve put together a guide with everything you need to know (and have always wanted to ask!) about switching to reusable menstrual products, including a list of brands and products reviews.

Find out more about our Plastic Free Periods campaign and how to get involved here.

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Help steer the ship as a Non-Executive Director with City to Sea

Like all good businesses, we never actually set out to become anything. Actually that may not be true, we imagine lots of good businesses started out with a robust business plan and a vision of the future. And yet what started as a frustration in our founder’s head (or heart) has somehow become a thriving not-for-profit organisation, growing award-winning campaigns and doing a pretty good job of getting people and businesses off single-use plastics and switched on to reusables.

One person on a mission became 18 (soon to be 20) people on a mission. In an office. With grown-up things to think about like HR, GDPR, PDRs and all manner of things that need explaining … and all while staying true to our mission to leave the oceans and waterways in a better state than we currently find them.

11/18th’s of the team one sunny day at the office.

It’s true to say that we’ve been building the ship while we’re sailing in it (and at times it’s felt more like a speedboat than a schooner) but we’re starting to feel a bit more streamlined and the wind’s still in our sails – thanks to the continued interest in plastic pollution solutions from our supporters, companies and the media.

So, as we head into 2019, with a new Sea-EO at the helm and a bunch of exciting new partnerships, we’re appointing a non-executive board to help steer and guide us on our way.

If you’re experienced, dynamic and entrepreneurial, and if you think you’d be able to offer some of your time, expertise or guidance and really want to help stop plastic pollution at source – then we’d love to hear from you.

We’re not able to pay our Non-Executive Directors (NEDs), but we will reward you with results – you’ll be able to see the impact of your commitment. We’re planning to meet once a quarter, either here at our iconic HQ on the Bristol Harbourside or in London.

Spot the Banksy …

Have a read of the job description here to see if you think we’re a match and for how to apply, or get in touch with our founder, Natalie Fee, for a chat. Oh and before the end of January would be ideal.

Thanks for reading!

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Meet our Sea-EO!

We’re excited to share the news that City to Sea have appointed a Chief Executive, Rebecca Burgess, to manage our growing team and build on this year’s incredible success as we move into 2019.

We’ve seen phenomenal growth over the last 12 months – evolving from a dedicated team of just 5 in early January 2018, to a team of 18.  The rapid growth follows an busy year of campaign success and both public and corporate interest in the issue of plastic pollution. Our Refill campaign was awarded Gold at the Global Good Awards earlier this year and now has the support of High St chains such as Costa, John Lewis, Morrisons, Greggs and Wetherspoons and through partnerships with transport hubs, including Network Rail and Heathrow Airport. The campaign is now going global, with plans to launch in Europe in 2019 and interest Internationally from Australia to Iceland.

Rebecca joined City to Sea in April 2018 as Head of Partnerships, to manage the growing network of businesses and organisations keen to support City to Sea’s work through campaigns such as Refill. After a few busy months she was appointed to the board as Commercial Director and naturally stepped into the role as Chief Executive as of December 2018.

Prior to City to Sea, Rebecca worked at Bristol-based independent consultancy Eunomia. Here she was responsible for the project management of Eunomia’s larger policy-related clients and oversaw the effective running of the twenty-strong consultants in the Policy and Sustainable Business teams. It was through working with the European Commission on their Plastic Strategy, that Rebecca felt inspired to do more in the fight against single-use plastic.  Rebecca will take over the role from December 1st 2018.

“I’m delighted to be taking on the role of Chief Executive at City to Sea at such a pivotal point in the organisation’s history. The growth we have seen over the past 12 months is a testament to both the amazing team we have and the increase in public and corporate concern about the issue of plastic pollution. I’m excited to see where we go next and look forward to leading the organisation into 2019 and beyond.”

City to Sea was founded in 2015 by Natalie Fee, an author, campaigner and recently one of Nesta’s 50 New Radicals. Having witnessed the amount of plastic flowing out of the river Avon into the Bristol Channel, during the city’s year as European Green Capital, Natalie, whose background was in media, was inspired to see if she could do something about it.

Natalie Fee will stay on in her role as Founder and continue to be the spokesperson for City to Sea as the organisation’s media presence continues to grow.

“I’m thrilled we’re in the position to offer Rebecca the role of Chief Executive. We’ve sprung up from nothing to become a key player in the fight against plastic pollution with a thriving, growing team. And while our enthusiasm and passion got us this far, it feels like great leadership and governance will be the key to our continued success.”

City to Sea are in the process of recruiting a non-executive board to help shape the future of the organisation. If this sounds like something you’d be interested or know someone with the skills and passion for the role get in touch.

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Santa & Mrs Claus on switching to a Plastic-Free Christmas 🎄🎅

We’re over the sleigh to share this exclusive interview with Mr & Mrs Claus.

After being inspired by all the actions across the globe and receiving letters from thousands of children to prevent plastic pollution, they’ve decided to look at their own single-use plastic habits at home as well as on the sleigh. Here, in this exclusive interview, they share with us how they’re making their celebrations plastic-free.

DISCLAIMER: Certain details and locations have been generalised or modified to protect confidential information about the location in which the Claus family reside.

Starting with you Mrs. Claus, over the centuries that Christmas has been ‘a thing’ how has it developed and adapted?

[MRS CLAUS] Sorry dear, you need to speak up I’m a bit deaf in my left ear.

[Question repeated]

Well, we’ve seen a whole range of things you see. When we started the business it was slow. But since the 1500s business has really been booming. But I’m a futurist, so I tend to be in a place where I look ahead.

Although we’ve found plastic to be useful for many Christmas-related things, plastic toys, for example, are light and easy to pull, but often they fall off the sleigh when things get bumpy (and unfortunately we’ve heard from City to Sea that plastic is getting into the ocean). So, we’re starting to innovate and begin to look into plastic-free alternatives.

[SANTA] Yes, as Mrs Claus (Santa calls his wife by this nickname) was saying, we’re looking into new ways to create a plastic-free Christmas not just for our house but for the billions of people around the world. It’s been a challenge, but with so many new ideas and products, we’ve been able to make a few changes and also encourage the elves to do the same.

That’s great news, it sounds like there was some effort involved but it paid off. So what are your favourite alternatives to plastic this year?

[SANTA] We’ve been very impressed by the inventive ideas people have come up with and we’ve also enjoyed looking back at the past to see what we did before plastic. My mother would always say “The way forwards is backwards!”.

[MRS CLAUS] We’re delivering more wooden toys than ever this year. Yes they’re heavier and take longer for the elves to build, but children are happy with them (most prefer the box they come in anyway). For the older kids – they’re totally switched on – we’ve had literally thousands of letters since Blue Planet II with requests from kids for plastic-free toys. Here’s a prototype one of the elves shared with me.

Photo by oxana v on Unsplash

Enclosed, Mrs Claus and I have included some of our favourite Plastic Free Christmas options as well as some gift ideas, please feel free to include them in your blog.

Thank you Mr & Mrs Claus, that saves us a job! And we’re sure our readers would much prefer to hear your tips anyway.


Rudolf, as bright as his nose is, sometimes leads us to crash into the occasional tree, knocking off a pine cone or two. Using fallen pinecones, mistletoe, holly and whatever else you may find, you can create decorations that give that authentic “Claus family” feel without all the plastic.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Presents don’t always have to be wrapped! Last year Mrs Claus and I gave a free Sleigh ride to an unsuspecting pensioner who had ‘given up on Christmas’. Give the gift of an experience to cut down on the wrapping.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash


Lots of wrapping paper can either be laminated, dyed, or contain plastic which means it can’t be recycled and won’t breakdown. Go for what I call the ‘Classic Santa Style’ reusing old newspapers or magazines instead of buying new stuff. You can also decorate it with items from idea #1. Mrs Clause hates trying to find the end of the sellotape and can spend hours doing it … string is much quicker for her.


Go to your local market to find food and produce that isn’t covered in plastic packaging. Or get a local organic veg box delivered to you door (ask for plastic-free options). Some even use an electric van, which has inspired our next Sleigh modification (Rudolph is running out of steam and we’re no longer sure if making them work so hard is ethical).

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash


The Elves love their crafts so much, they’ve encouraged myself and Mrs Claus to give it a go, so this year we’re making handmade cards for each other to avoid buying ones with a plastic sleeve.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


Find any of the products below at City to Sea’s Less Plastic Lifestyle collection in the Bear and Bear store. Mrs Claus and I are loving it, and with 15% of every purchase going towards funding City to Sea’s mission, maybe we’ll take next year off and just direct people to the collection. We could do with a year off anyway, as could the planet.

Wow, they’re some really good tips Mr and Mrs Claus. So what final thoughts can you leave us with?

[SANTA] We wish all of your supporters a very Merry Christmas from the whole Claus family and encourage them (and you!) to go as plastic-free as you can this year, whether it’s the stocking fillers you find, the food you eat or the gifts you exchange.

[MRS CLAUS] All the changes, may seem small but add up. And to enjoy it, Christmas is an overwhelming time for some we’re told, don’t let plastics add to that. (And if the rellies aren’t happy about the lack of plastic-wrapped sweets, just pretend you forgot to buy them!)

We’ve very much enjoyed this exchange and we look forward to working with City to Sea more in the new year.

Merry Christmas with lots of love from Mr and Mrs Claus xx


We want to thank Mr & Mrs Claus for taking time out at this busy time for them for choosing City to Sea for this World Exclusive interview.

p.s. Santa also asked us to pass on the message that he has developed a sherry intolerance, so if you’re able to swap out the sherry for a glass of milk (delivered in glass bottles) that would be great (‘cos I’m no longer drinking and driving. I get on it at New Year now days’ – He told us).

Please pass on the important message by sharing this blog with your friends.


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Launching the Less Plastic Lifestyle Collection

We’re beyond excited to launch our ‘Less Plastic Lifestyle Collection’ with our 1% for the Planet partner, Bear & Bear – an online retailer who sell products that are made for the outdoors and desined for life.  The Less Plastic Lifestyle Collection launches just in time for Christmas so you can find the perfect gifts for friends and family that they can use throughout the new year to reduce their plastic footprint.

Besides having supported our work throughout 2018, Bear & Bear have enabled us to reach an ambition of ours – launching our first ever collection for those looking to reduce their environmental impact and single-use plastic consumption. This ever-evolving collection includes all of the ‘must have’ items if you’re looking to start reducing your single-use plastic use, from bottles, cups and bamboo cutlery to rose gold metal straws and reusable coffee cups made from rice husk. If you’re already on the journey to living plastic free and want some more ideas for smart plastic alternatives, we’re also pretty confident you’ll see products in this collection which you may not have seen before.

Even better, at least 15% of every purchase is going to go towards supporting our campaigns to tackle plastic pollution at source.

Shop the collection here, and join the movement to reduce your plastic footprint. Don’t forget to like, share and tweet your comments and show us what small changes you’re making in everyday life to connect your actions to your oceans.

Running a business and want to get involved in supporting our work? Please get in touch with our Partnerships Manager at

Happy Shopping!

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The Toilet Tour…… It’s Bog Standard!

This World Toilet Day we bared (almost) all and hit the streets of Essex to spread the word about our Bog Standard campaign!

Research has shown that more than 8.5% of plastics found on UK beaches comes from our toilets following sewer blockages. The flushed items causing mayhem in the sewer system primarily consist of ‘the Dirty Dozen’ – baby wipes, household cleaning wipes, facial wipes, bum wipes (all types of wipes!), tampons (yep they usually contain plastic), tampon applicators, cleansing pads, cigarettes, plasters, nappies, menstrual pads and cotton wool.

You may have seen in the news a couple of weeks ago that although many businesses label their wet wipes as ‘flushable’ – none of them actually adhere to the water companies flushable standards! Wet wipes alone make up 93% of matter causing sewer blockages and overflow… It’s time to change our secret flushing behaviour!

This is why on Sunday 18th and Monday 19th November we went on a 3 day #ToiletTour around Brentwood, Chelmsford and Cambridge to raise awareness about how we can all be part of the solution. To help keep our seas plastic-free, only flush paper, poo and pee!

It’s Bog Standard.

During the tour, our amazing volunteers and partners helped us put up Bog Standard stickers in the toilet cubicles of Brentwood Kitchen, Starbucks, Pret a Manger, The Works, Nandos, Zizzi’s, Giraffe, Slug & Lettuce, Turtle Bay, Wilkin & Co, Tiptree Tea Rooms, Chicken & Frog, Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin Universities & both Cambridge and Brentwood Councils. We even got Cllr. Rosy Moore (Exec Cllr for Environmental Services in Cambridge) to sit on the bog with us!

Our founder, Natalie Fee said: “We’re facing an environmental crisis when it comes to plastic pollution, yet many people aren’t aware of just how many bathroom products contain plastic. We’re proud to be working with Anglian Water to raise awareness of a simple way that we can stop needless plastic pollution at source.”

A huge thank you to everyone that has supported this project so far – watch this space for a national campaign next year!

If you want to know how else you can help reduce plastic pollution from your bathroom check out our Bog Standard  and Plastic-Free Period campaigns.

The City to Sea team 💙

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They axed the plastic tax

In case you didn’t catch the news, on the 30th Nov Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the UK will introduce a new plastic tax on the *manufacture and import* of plastic packaging that contains *less than 30% recycled* plastic during his Autumn Budget speech. It won’t be implemented for another four years and that’s subject to (another) consultation.

So not a visible tax on single-use items, like coffee cups, at point of sale, like you and almost a quarter of a million people asked for through this petition. And 31% of you went on to respond to HM Treasury’s consultation seeking views on tackling the single-use plastic issue – which had the highest government consultation response rate EVER in government history.

Despite your efforts, and our attempt to persuade the government to take meaningful action on plastic pollution now, they have chosen to ignore us. For now at least. Our sense is that this set-back in England creates political space for devolved governments in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to take the lead. Again.

(When England said no to the 5p bag charge, the Welsh government went and did it anyway, followed by Northern Ireland, then Scotland. Finally Westminster got with the programme … and plastic bag use has since gone down by 86%.)

If you want to hear more, have a quick watch of my video response on Facebook or Twitter here.


Thanks for your support – the fight doesn’t stop here!

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National Refill Day

Here at City to sea, our Refill campaign has been heads down, bottles up 🙃

To say that 2018 has been a big year for Refill would be an understatement, not only for the Refill project but for us, the City to Sea team behind the campaign. Following our partnership with Water UK, the project has gone from [take deep breath here] a grass-roots, after-work, spare time, experimental extravaganza to a globally recognised, award-winning campaign reaching hundreds of thousands of individuals and communities across the UK and abroad.

It’s enough to make all our mums proud.

So to celebrate we’ve created National Refill Day. Yep, a whole national day! And we have a new Refill app …

We hope you can join us.

Use your refillable bottle and share on social media with the hashtags #RefillRevolution #NationalRefillDay and together, let’s create a ripple of Refill love across the nation!

Read more about National Refill Day and our new app here …


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