Plastic pollution

Learn about our ground-breaking plastics policy and the action we’re taking against plastic pollution.

Our plastics policy

Every company has a responsibility to avoid harming the environment. To take a stand against plastic pollution, we published our plastics policy – the first in the water industry. We also regularly report on our levels of pollution.

Here’s a summary of what we’re doing across our business, supply chain and community:


In our business
  • We gave every employee a refillable, aluminium water bottle so we could stop using disposable cups in water coolers.
  • Our cafés now accept reusable coffee cups and we charge a levy on disposable ones with all proceeds going to charity - our usage of single-use cups has since dropped by 75%.
  • We’ve rolled out a plastics training programme to all employees.


With our suppliers
  • We switched to biodegradable catering supplies made from sugarcane.
  • Where plastic is unavoidable, we use products that are recycled – and recyclable after use.
  • We’re developing an environmental assessment to evaluate how green products are before we purchase them so we can make informed decisions.


In the community
  • We’re raising awareness about the impact of plastic waste – especially plastic contained in unflushable items such as wet wipes.
  • Our Beauty of the Beach campaign encourages beach-goers to dispose of rubbish responsibly – we arrange beach cleans too.
  • We support Refill – a campaign to promote water refill stations in public locations so people can avoid single-use bottled water.

Find out more about pollution reporting in your region (West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent and Hampshire).


Battling microfibres

One form of plastic pollution is microplastics – fragments of plastic, like clothing fibres, that contaminate watercourses and our natural environment.

Although we’re not the source of plastics in our oceans, we are a link from source to sea. So, we have an opportunity to intervene. That's why we’re funding research to better understand how to extract these materials from the water we treat – and filter them out of wastewater to stop them being released back into the environment.


How to reduce plastic pollution 

We’ve all heard horror stories about how single-use plastics – like bottles, plastic bags and straws – have polluted our oceans, trapped or choked wildlife and contaminated natural resources. From simple day-to-day changes to taking part in surveys and community events – there are so many ways you can help fight plastic pollution.


Tips for plastic-free living

You can make simple changes to cut down your everyday plastic use. In some cases, going plastic-free could save you money too. Here are some handy tips to reduce your plastic footprint:

  • WWF offers ten tips to reduce your plastic use.
  • Money Saving Expert suggests 13 ways to cut plastic and save cash too.
  • The Women’s Institute has some great advice on buying and washing clothes as part of its In a Spin and End Plastic Soup campaigns.

If you’re ready for a bigger challenge, you could even try going plastic-free for a whole month with the Marine Conservation Society’s plastic challenge. Remember to share your journey using #goplasticfree to raise awareness about plastic pollution.


Recycle what plastics you do use

From bottles and bags to plastic plant pots – find out where to recycle items in your area with Recycle Now.


Watch what you flush

You can also avoid plastic pollution by being careful what you flush down the toilet. Only the three Ps should go down the loo: pee, poo and paper. Everything else should go in the bin.

Sadly, some people flush the wrong things - like wet wipes, dental floss and cotton buds. These often contain plastic. Flushing them down the toilet causes blockages which can lead to flooding, allowing stray plastic waste to litter our beaches and waterways.

Still unsure why what you flush matters? Find out the fun way - meet 'the Unflushables'.  


Support science

You can team up with local people to fight plastic pollution while helping science.

Several research projects are using beach cleans to capture data about the plastic problem worldwide. Here are some studies you could be a part of:


Book a talk

If you’re a member of a social club or community organisation, Southern Water could visit your group to talk about plastic waste.

Enquire about a free community talk to learn how plastic and other unflushable waste impacts your water supply, contributes to flooding and affects our bathing waters.


How organisations can reduce plastic pollution

All organisations can make a difference. The suppliers we choose, the products we use and the culture we create in our workplaces can all reduce the impact plastic has on our planet.


Tips for going plastic-free

Even simple changes can drastically reduce your workplace’s plastic waste. For instance, you can switch plastic products for sustainable alternatives or introduce reusable or recyclable supplies. Here are some handy tips to curb your organisation’s everyday plastic use:

  • Surfers Against Sewage has selected some top tips to side-step single-use plastics in the workplace.
  • The Marine Conservation Society showcases some quick wins and long-term strategies for becoming a plastic-free business.


Join other thought-leaders

Issues that impact our environment affect all of us – and we all need to work together to solve them.

Your organisation can join other forward-thinking groups in tackling climate change by signing up to Waste to Wealth – an initiative founded by the charity Business in the Community.

You can sign up to the Waste to Wealth commitments and work alongside other businesses, government agencies and academics to be a force for change.


What about at home?

We can all fight plastic pollution with the decisions we make each day – both in and outside the workplace. In your home life, you can make small changes to reduce your everyday plastic use too.