Tearfund urges Government to help developing nations tackle plastic waste

29 March 2018

ANDREW PHILIP/TEARFUND

A woman picks through waste dumped at a site in Calcutta, India

A woman picks through waste dumped at a site in Calcutta, India

TEARFUND has launched a campaign to encourage the Government to spend more of the international-development budget on waste management, to rid the oceans of plastic and improve the lives of people in poverty.

Tearfund is campaigning for more aid to be spent on helping more than two billion people worldwide who do not have access to waste collection.

It argues that giving more people access to waste collection would help to decrease the amount of rubbish being disposed of into rivers and oceans, or being burned, which would improve people’s lives in the global South.

A senior policy adviser at Tearfund, Joanne Green, said on Monday of last week that the charity was hoping that this campaign would “push this issue up the political agenda, particularly the development agenda. It is something that has been neglected for a long time.”

The agency was “hearing more from communities we work with that this is a growing problem”, she said. “The waste produced by developing countries is only going to increase, and that doesn’t just affect the oceans, it causes serious health problems for people in those countries. We want to see more aid money spent on this issue.”

Tearfund is encouraging members of the public to sign a petition to the Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, which begins next month.

It hopes that the Government can show the way to the rest of the Commonwealth in prioritising waste management: something that is a big issue for many of the developing nations who are members of the group.

Ms Green said that, currently, 0.3 per cent of the global aid budget was spent on waste reduction, and, if this was raised to three per cent, the two billion people worldwide who did not have waste collection could be provided with it, and plastic pollution could be halved.

“We have been having positive discussions with the Government so far, but the public need to show they care,” Ms Green said.

In January, the Government announced its 25-year environment plan, and the Prime Minister announced a war on plastic waste. It was “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”, Theresa May said. “In years to come, I think people will be shocked at how, today, we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly.”

The Church’s lead bishop on environmental issues, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, said that the ambition behind the plan was “terrific”, and showed it to be “caring for God’s creation” (News, 19 January).

Meeting is held to consider biodiversity. Science and policy experts at a UN-backed meeting last week considered five five landmark reports on biodiversity, and issues of land degradation and restoration. Sir Robert Watson, who chairs the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, said that “all governments around the world should be looking at [the reports] to see what we are saying.”

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