Tackling Plastic Pollution: The Coalition Hosts Sir David Attenborough CBE and the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP


Author: Katie Husselby

On Monday 11th March, the Coalition for Global Prosperity were delighted to host Sir David Attenborough CBE, Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, and a panel of experts to call for Britain to continue to act as a global leader in tackling plastic pollution.

The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP and Sir David Attenborough CBE

The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP and Sir David Attenborough CBE

The event, co-hosted by the Coalition for Global Prosperity, Plastic Oceans UK and the APPG on the Prevention of Plastic Waste, explored how Britain can lead in the global fight against plastic pollution and conserve our environment for generations to come.

Anne Main MP, co-host chair of the APPG on the Prevention of Plastic Waste, opened the afternoon’s proceedings by emphasising the urgency of the situation.

Theo Clarke, Jo Ruxton, Sir David Attenborough CBE and Anne Main MP

It is important now more than ever to focus on tackling plastic waste. The UK must lead in reducing plastic pollution not only at home but also abroad, in order to protect and conserve our planet for future generations.
— Anne Main MP

Theo Clarke, co-host and chair, then introduced guest of honour Sir David Attenborough CBE for his keynote address. Sir David utilised his own experiences to point out the current magnitude of the issue.

Now the world globally is producing every year 400 million tonnes of plastic and 10 million tonnes of that goes into the oceans…The consequences of this both to humanity and life in the seas upon which we depend is hideous.
— Sir David Attenborough CBE

Introduced by her former Blue Planet colleague Sir David, the audience then heard from co-host and founder of Plastic Oceans UK, Jo Ruxton.

We must change the way we use plastic. It is a remarkable product that has saved nature many times over, its use has revolutionised the way we live and its contribution to the medical practice has saved millions of lives. But our addiction to unnecessary, single-use items and ridiculous over-packaging must stop.
— Jo Ruxton

Ahead of the panel discussion, the Coalition were delighted to co-host International Development Secretary, the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, for her keynote speech. Ms Mordaunt announced the doubling of UK aid support for plastic recycling in developing countries and called for solutions to clearing plastic waste from the world’s oceans and rivers.

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to our oceans. That’s why I am doubling UK aid’s support to projects in developing countries to increase plastic recycling. This will create jobs and reduce the harmful impact of plastic waste in our oceans. Cleaning up our environment is a win for us all.
— The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP

Following the keynote speeches, our Chief Executive Theo Clarke then chaired an expert panel on this issue: Jo Ruxton (Plastic Oceans UK), Mary Creagh MP (Chair, Environmental Audit Committee), Roger Wright (Marks and Spencer), and Professor Richard Thompson OBE (University of Plymouth).

The UK uses an astonishing 13 billion plastic bottles each year, and our throwaway society means 5 and a half billion of them are landfilled, littered or incinerated. Plastic bottles end up in our streets, on our shores, and in our seas - polluting our water and choking wildlife. We need action at individual, council, regional and national levels to turn back this plastic tide.
— Mary Creagh MP

Theo Clarke, who chaired the evening’s discussion, brought the evening to a close by praising Britain’s commitment to tackling and reducing plastic pollution across the globe.

Theo Clarke

Theo Clarke

We should be proud of the leading role that Britain has played in tackling plastic pollution both at home and abroad. I was shocked to hear that globally two billion people don’t have their rubbish collected which leads to disease for people in poverty. Waste and plastic pollution is having a detrimental impact on people’s lives. We can all do our bit to help the environment as after all, we only have one planet and we need to look after it for future generations.
— Theo Clarke