UK doubles support for plastic recycling in poor nations

12th March 2019

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Selina Morson

The UK has doubled its financial support for improving plastic recycling in poor countries around the world, the Department for International Development (DFID) has confirmed.

Speaking in parliament yesterday, international development secretary Penny Mordaunt said aid would jump from £3m to £6m, and called for new solutions to tackle ocean plastic pollution.

She was joined by Sir David Attenborough, who spoke of “the hideous consequences“ of plastics “to both humanity and to life in the seas, upon which we depend“.

Ghana and Bangladesh have been some of the early recipients of the UK aid, which will be supported by other governments, waste collectors, Coca-Cola and Unilever to improve plastic recycling.

Mordaunt said: “Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to our oceans. The UN estimates that there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050 unless we act to reduce our use and improve how waste is managed.

“That's why I am doubling UK aid's support to projects in developing countries to increase plastic recycling. This will create jobs and reduce the harmful impact of plastic waste in our oceans.“

The aim of aid-supported pilot projects in developing countries is to connect responsible businesses with people who collect waste for a living – often women living in poverty.

This comes after the prime minister last year pledged £66.4m to boost global research and help countries in the Commonwealth stop plastic waste from entering oceans.

The DFID has also agreed to raise the target of Christian charity Tearfund's plastics appeal from £2m to £3m, which means every pound raised will be doubled by the government through UK Aid Match.

This money will be used for recycling hubs across Pakistan, and stop about 2,000 tonnes of plastic – equivalent to more than 150 million plastic bottles – entering the ocean each year.

Moreover, the DFID has pledged up to £10m for the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, and £20m to reduce pollution in Africa and South Asia through the Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution programme.

Coalition for Global Prosperity chief executive, Theo Clarke, said: “Tackling plastic pollution helps to protect wildlife and conserve our beautiful coastlines here in the UK and around the world.“

Image credit: iStock


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