£61-million Commonwealth fund to tackle plastic pollution

May has pledged £60m to cut ocean plastic waste across the Commonwealth | Credit US Fish and Wildlife Service

May has pledged £60m to cut ocean plastic waste across the Commonwealth | Credit US Fish and Wildlife Service

Theresa May will use this week's Commonwealth summit to launch a multi-million-pound bid to help rid the oceans of plastic pollution.

The three countries have joined Britain in the Vanuatu-led Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance which has pledged to ban microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products, and cut plastic bag use by 2021.

The Government pledged to match public donations to tackle plastic waste through the UK Aid Match up to a total of £5m.

Some £25m of the cash will go to research on marine plastic pollution, while £20m will go on tackling plastic waste in developing countries.

"To further support the work of the CCOA, £16.4 million will be used to improve waste management at a national and a city level", the government said.

She said: "The scourge of plastics is a global environmental challenge - and one that overwhelmingly impacts the livelihoods and health of the world's poorest people".

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"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 now find it".

"It is a unique organisation with the strength and the commitment to make a difference". "Through this ambitious alliance we will build on the UK's world-leading microbeads ban and 5 pence (0.07 USA dollar) plastic bag charge to harness the full power of the Commonwealth in pushing for global change and safeguarding our marine environment for future generations".

The Commonwealth has eleven nations in the Pacific Ocean, nine of which are small island nations at higher risk from marine pollution and climate change.

Prof McGeehan, director of the Institute of Biological and Biomedical Sciences in the School of Biological Sciences at Portsmouth, said: "Few could have predicted that since plastics became popular in the 1960s huge plastic waste patches would be found floating in oceans, or washed up on once pristine beaches all over the world".

"But they ended up going a step further and accidentally engineered an enzyme which was even better at breaking down PET plastics", said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.

"Devoting UK worldwide development money to help poor communities clean up and better manage their waste isn't just good for nature, it's good for people too".

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