CIWM and WasteAid have hailed the announcement by the Government (15th April) of a £61.4 million package of funding for global research and to assist countries across the Commonwealth to stop plastic waste from entering the oceans as a major breakthrough.  Further signatories to the UK and Vanuatu-led Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance were also announced, with New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ghana signing up to join forces in the fight against plastic pollution.

CIWM has been working closely with a number of organisations, including WasteAid, Tearfund and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) to highlight the link between solid waste management and the growing tide of marine plastics pollution, including writing to the Prime Minister Theresa May and DfID and Defra Secretaries of State Penny Mordaunt and Michael Gove.

Last month, CIWM and WasteAid published a briefing document, ‘From the Land to the Sea’, which catalogues the impact that poor or non-existent waste collection and management practices in developing countries have on the growing quantity of plastic waste that is entering the oceans every year. More than 90% of marine plastics comes from land-based sources and it is estimated that mismanaged municipal solid waste in developing countries could account for 50-70% by weight of the plastics entering the oceans

“We are delighted that the Government has listened and taken action on a number of fronts, including research and practical support and aid to improve waste management systems,” says CIWM chief executive Dr Colin Church. “This is a complex and challenging problem, of which plastic pollution is only one aspect. With two billion people living without waste collection and three billion without controlled waste disposal, the poor management of solid waste is a global crisis, leading not just to land, water and air pollution, but also flooding, disease, disability, social inequality and climate change impacts.”

In the ‘From the Land to the Sea’ briefing, CIWM and WasteAid UK called on the UK Government to take immediate action by:

  • committing to increasing the proportion of its aid spent on waste management to at least 3% from its current estimated level of 0.3%;
  • championing the need for increases in aid to waste management at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and at the G7 this year, for example as part of the blue economy priority; and
  • spearheading the negotiation of a binding international treaty to tackle marine plastic pollution, which should have at its core prevention through proper solid waste management, as well as efforts to clean up existing pollution.

“CIWM will continue to press home this message to the Government,” says CIWM President Professor David C Wilson MBE. “A pro-poor, inclusive approach to improve solid waste management would provide a vital service to some of the world’s poorest communities, helping them to have a healthier place in which to live, grow and do business, whilst also creating jobs. It could also be a major step in tackling the marine plastics crisis, potentially halving the amount of plastic waste entering the oceans and reducing the wider environmental impact of waste on the environment.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  1. CIWM is the leading professional body for the resource and waste management sector representing around 5,500 individuals in the UK, Ireland and overseas. Established in 1898, CIWM is a non-profit making organisation, dedicated to the promotion of professional competence amongst waste managers. CIWM seeks to raise standards for those working in and with the sector by producing best practice guidance, developing educational and training initiatives, and providing information on key waste-related issues. More information can be found at ciwm.co.uk
  2. WasteAid UK (wasteaid.org.uk) is a charity working to make an impact on the global waste emergency by:
  • Partnering with local organisations to improve the health, environment and livelihoods of people without waste services.
  • Building the skills of local people to deliver practical solutions to the waste management crisis in their own communities.
  • Raising awareness of the benefits of proper waste management and campaigning for greater change.

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