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UK News

Tearfund urges Government to tackle plight of plastic pollution as supermarket reveals plastic footprint

by Tola Mbakwe

Christian humanitarian agency Tearfund has called on the UK Government to enforce legislation that will make it mandatory for companies to report how much plastic they use and how they plan to reduce it. 

The charity's plea came as Iceland Foods published its own plastic footprint on Wednesday, amounting to over 32,000 tonnes across its UK and international operations in 2019. The company revealed it reduced its plastic use by 29 per cent in a year. 

Joanne Green, senior policy advisor on waste at Tearfund, commended the supermarket and told Premier addressing plastic pollution is an urgent matter, as it's already proven to be detrimental in many parts of the world. 

"A couple of years ago, I visited Brazil and met a lady there called Maria who lives next to a river in an informal settlement. So much plastic is put into the river because have no waste collections. 

"So every year the river floods at least once a year, if not more, and floods her home. People have drowned. Obviously, their possessions are ruined, and diseases are spread. That's just one example. There are many other ways in which mismanaged plastic and waste ends up affecting people's health, [there's]  burning as well. People have breathing problems and trouble with upper respiratory complaints as well."

Green said Tearfund recognises that companies have to act to solve the problem, but the organisation also believes the UK Government should lead the way. 

Tearfund has partnered with Iceland Foods and other environmental charities to pressure the Government into setting ambitious and legally binding targets for the elimination of plastic pollution within the Environmental Bill. It would also bring about an end to the sale, use and production of non-essential single-use plastic products.

"As a Christian, we should be stewards of God's earth that he has given to us to us to look after. It's his creation and every day we're seeing how plastic pollution is harming that creation. And t's also harming us, we are part of that creation. It's harming our neighbours, particularly in the global south.

"As Christians, we should want to see action, we should be making changes in our own life, but we should also be calling others out and asking governments and companies to do a lot more to tackle this problem."

In 2019, a YouGov poll for Friends of the Earth showed 89 per cent of people support a law to significantly reduce plastic waste and pollution within 25 years, with 61 per cent expressing strong support.

Listen to Premier's interview with Joanne Green here:

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