Sir David Attenborough backs plastic pollution report

A report that looks at the health impact of plastic pollution and rubbish on the world’s poorest people has found that each year between 400,000 and a million people (at the upper end one person every 30 seconds) are dying in developing countries from illnesses and diseases like diarrhoea, malaria and cancers caused by living near uncollected waste and plastic pollution.

The new figures are released in the report No Time to Waste: Tackling the Plastic Pollution Crisis Before it’s Too Late by Tearfund, Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the Institute of Development Studies and WasteAid. The report calls on multinational companies to fundamentally change their business models by committing to reporting the number of single-use plastic items they distribute in developing countries by 2020, and halving this by 2025.

Currently, plastic production emits 400m tonnes of greenhouses gases– more than the UK’s total carbon footprint – and an estimated 8 –12.7m tonnes of plastic is entering the oceans every year.

Sir David Attenborough endorsed the report, saying: “This report is one of the first to highlight the impacts of plastic pollution not just on wildlife but also on the world’s poorest people. It is high time we turn our attention fully to one of the most pressing problems of today – averting the plastic pollution crisis – not only for the health of our planet, but for the wellbeing of people around the world.”

Two billion people, (one in four), do not have their rubbish collected, often leading to disease and death as the rubbish builds up in rivers and causes flooding, which can lead to diarrhoea and a host of infectious diseases.

Often the only other way to dispose of waste is to burn it in the streets, with the resulting fumes being extremely damaging to health as well as - in some countries - being the single largest source of carbon emissions, contributing to climate change.

Dr Ruth Valerio of Tearfund said: “Today Tearfund launches our new Rubbish Campaign, which calls for urgent action from four multinationals - Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever. They sell billions of products in single-use plastic packaging in poorer countries where waste isn’t collected, in the full knowledge that people will have no choice but to burn it, discard it in waterways or live among it.”

To read the report click here.

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