Sir David Attenborough has warned our waste is killing people every 30 seconds, in a damning report in which he brands the world’s plastic pollution as an ‘unfolding catastrophe’.
In the report, which is led by charity Tearfund and backed by Sir David, it claims that single-use plastic being shipped across the world by wealthy countries like Britain could be contributing to millions of deaths each year.
The report continues to say children playing around plastic waste are twice as likely to get intestinal bugs like cholera, which is said to be the biggest killer in children under the age of five.
Plastic waste is equally damaging as it creates a breeding ground for the likes of rats, flies and mosquitos, which spread potentially fatal diseases like malaria and dengue fever. The burning of plastic is also a huge contribution to air pollution, which is estimated to kill 3.7 million people a year.
The heart wrenching report is calling for people to act, given that Britain alone exports 650,000 tonnes of plastic waste each year, to places such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Multinational companies, who give out plastic sachets and bottles, are becoming an increasing problem in the developing world, the report adds.
Sir David will present the report to the Wall Street Journal CEO Council today, describing the plastic waste as an ‘unfolding catastrophe’.
As reported by the MailOnline, Sir David said:
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 well being of people around the world.
The UK is said to throw away two double-decker busloads worth of plastic waste every 30 seconds, according to the report which is aptly titled ‘No Time To Waste’.
Meanwhile, 30 double-deckers worth of plastic is burned or dumped in developing countries and someone dies from diseases caused from said waste.
One of the most frustrating issues, the report highlights, is that only half of plastic is used only once before it’s discarded.
The report is calling on brands like Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever to make changes by reporting the number of single plastic use items they distribute in developing countries by next year, and halving that amount by 2025.
Dr Ruth Valerio, global advocacy and influencing director at Tearfund, said:
The CEOs running these multinationals can no longer ignore the human cost of single-use plastic. Fundamental changes to business models are urgently required. There is no time to waste.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.