Government announces £61m package to tackle marine litter

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 16 April 2018

As Commonwealth leaders arrive in London, PM Theresa May has announced a government fund of £61.4 million to fight the rising tide of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

We know there is an urgent need for action NOW - not just in the UK, but across the Commonwealth and globally.

Chris Tuckett,
MCS Director of Programmes

During the meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government, an event which takes place every two years, the Prime Minister is also expected to call on all of the 52 leaders present to sign up to the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance - a strategy to help developing Commonwealth nations research and improve and waste management.

Four Commonwealth countries have already joined the UK in the alliance - New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Ghana.

Chris Tuckett, MCS Director of Programmes, said: “We welcome the commitment from the UK Government to take the lead in tackling the problem of marine plastic across the Commonwealth. In the UK the Marine Conservation Society has been tracking the issue of marine plastic for the past 25 years.

We know there is an urgent need for action NOW - not just in the UK, but across the Commonwealth and globally. By working together with Commonwealth partners we will have an opportunity to #StopthePlasticTide and preserve our precious oceans.”

Downing Street said £25 million of the fund will be used to help researchers investigate the issue of marine plastic from a scientific, economic and social perspective.

A further £20 million will be used to curb plastic and other environmental pollution generated by manufacturing in developing countries and prevent it entering the oceans.

The remaining £16.4 million will be devoted to improving waste management at a national and a city level to stop plastics entering the water.

The issue of plastic waste caused public outcry after Blue Planet II, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, highlighted the scale of the problem.

Speaking in advance of the summit, the Prime Minister said: “This week we will look closely at how we can tackle the many threats to the health of the world’s oceans, including the scourge of marine plastic pollution.

“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, and I believe the Commonwealth is uniquely placed to further this transformative action.

“It is a unique organisation with the strength and the commitment to make a difference.”

She added: “If we stand together, we have the opportunity to send not only a powerful message to the world, but also to effect real change.”

Britain, who is co-chairing the event with Vanuatu, will call on Commonwealth nations to follow the UK’s lead in banning microbeads and cutting down on single-use plastic bags.

Do you want to help stop the plastic tide? We are currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items

Actions you can take

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

Did you know?…

UK Seas provide us with resources from fish to renewable marine energy

Globally, plastic litter has reached every part of the world’s oceans

Since the carrier bag charge came in across the UK, the Great British Beach Clean has recorded almost 50% fewer bags on beaches