The Prince of Wales praises collaborative efforts to solve plastic waste problem

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 1 February 2018

Prince Charles has told a meeting of environmentalists and business leaders of his “deep frustration” at the world ignoring plastic waste in the ocean.

© Richard Harrington

The nightmare result of eight million tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year is set to get worse rather than better.

His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales,
MCS President

He was speaking at a meeting of the International Sustainability Unit (ISU) at The British Academy in central London, almost half a century after making his first environmental speech in 1968.

The Prince is patron of MCS and the charity’s Director of Programmes, Dr Chris Tuckett, was among the invited audience at the “Keeping plastics and their value in the economy and out of the ocean” conference. It also included representatives from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, PepsiCo UK, and Sky Ocean Ventures Fund.

The Prince told delegates: “The nightmare result of eight million tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year is set to get worse rather than better.

“Over the last few years, the awareness and science about the negative impacts of plastic waste in our ocean have grown significantly.

“Many of you, I know, shared my deep frustration that the world was seemingly just turning a blind eye to this mounting evidence.

“Thankfully, the level of concern has now changed, not least because of your efforts.”

He added: “Even though the challenge at hand is extremely grave and unbelievably urgent, I for one at least find some encouragement from the fact that the legacy of plastic in the environment is now very much on the global agenda and in the public consciousness.”

Charles established the ISU in 2010 to help tackle environmental issues such as deforestation, climate change and marine health.

At the meeting, he praised current collaborative and integrated efforts to solve the problem of plastic waste.

He said: “In a culture where the forces of competition so often swamp the imperative of co-operation, breaking out of the silos that slow down progress is even more of an achievement.”

He urged the organisations present to work together over the coming year to make “real, substantial progress.” He added: “It could not be more critical that you succeed.”

MCS Director of Programmes, Dr Chris Tuckett said:”Public concern about the growing tide of plastic is increasing, and businesses do need to do their bit to solve the problem. HRH Prince Charles and his International Sustainability Unit are bringing business leaders to the table and encouraging them to take action on plastic. This is a huge help in keeping up the profile of the issue and achieving our aim to stop the plastic tide.”

MCS is currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.

Actions you can take

  1. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019
  2. Help us stop the plastic tide

Did you know?…

On UK beaches levels of litter have doubled in the past 20 years

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces