16 April 2018

UK government pledges £61m to fight plastic waste in Commonwealth countries

The UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, is using a meeting of Commonwealth nations this week to accelerate action against plastic pollution.

The government is also to set aside £61.4 million to support efforts against plastic waste and boost global research.

Ahead of the meeting, Mrs May said: “As one of the most significant environmental challenges facing the world today, it is vital that we tackle this issue so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.

“The UK public has shown passion and energy in the fight against plastic waste. If we stand together, we have the opportunity to send not only a powerful message to the world, but also to effect real change.”

Mrs May will urge member states to join the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, an agreement to work together on the issue. A number of the 53 nations within the Commonwealth are located in areas where marine plastic is a major problem, such as the Pacific Ocean. Vanuatu, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and Ghana have recently joined the coalition, which means being able to bid for the new funding.

£25 million of the cash will go into supporting researchers develop new technical methods to approaching marine plastic waste; 20 million will be spent on reducing environmental pollution from the manufacturing process in developing countries, and a further 16.4 million will go into improving waste management systems.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove commented: “When it comes to our seas and oceans, the challenge is global so the answer must be too.”

“Through this ambitious alliance we will build on the UK’s world-leading microbeads ban and 5p plastic bag charge to harness the full power of the Commonwealth in pushing for global change and safeguarding our marine environment for future generations,” he added.

Furthermore, the government will match public donations to fund further plastic waste efforts. International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “We are joining forces with our Commonwealth partners, bringing together global expertise to stop plastics waste from entering oceans – and by matching pound-for-pound the UK public’s passionate response to the issue, we can make our shared ambition for clean oceans a reality.”

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