Could development funding help fight ocean plastic pollution?

plastic in the ocean
CC BY 2.0 Flickr user killerturnip

Plastic pollution doesn't just kill fish. It kills people too.

From corporations incorporating ocean-bound plastics into their supply chains to the UK considering a tax on single use plastics, there's very real momentum behind the effort to reduce ocean plastic pollution at the moment.

But I confess I hadn't really thought about the issue in terms of international development. Until now.

The Guardian reports that international development charity Tearfund is urging the British government to massively increase its spending on waste reduction and marine plastic pollution prevention, specifically within the context of its international development funding. The charity is calling on an increase from the 0.3% of the UK's £13bn development budget that is currently spent on waste management to 3%, or £390m per year.

They make a pretty solid case. A recent study suggests 90% of marine plastic pollution originates from just 10 rivers, two of which are in Africa, and eight of which are in Asia. And between direct impact on fisheries (on which many populations rely for literal and economic sustenance) to the public health impact of inadequate refuse collection and processing, there's a real opportunity to advance human health while also reviving the fate of our oceans. Presumably, if incorporating ocean plastics into supply chains really does take off, then there's an economic development opportunity here too.

I'm sold. I look forward to seeing if this approach takes off.

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