On Monday evening, James Gray MP joined Sir David Attenborough CBE and International Development Secretary Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP in parliament to speak out on tackling plastic pollution across the globe. 

The event, co-hosted by the Coalition for Global Prosperity, Plastic Oceans UK and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Prevention of Plastic Waste, brought together parliamentarians from across the political spectrum and senior stakeholders for a discussion on British leadership combatting plastic waste on the international stage, as well as domestically.

At the event, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt doubled UK aid support for plastic recycling in developing countries and called for solutions to clearing plastic waste from the world’s oceans and rivers.

The issue of plastic pollution is escalating and unavoidable; far from remaining beyond our shores, it is washing up there daily. From microplastics disrupting our fishing industry and sparking concerns about public health, to beautiful stretches of British coastline being ruined, it is essential that this issue is confronted with coordinated efforts around the world.

This event put a spotlight on the UK’s commitment to reducing plastic waste across the world, and the opportunity for Britain to be at the forefront of these global conservation efforts.

Sir David Attenborough CBE said: “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.”

Mary Creagh MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, of which James is a member, said: “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.” 

Jo Ruxton, co-founder of Plastic Oceans UK, said: “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.  We need to re-educate ourselves and ensure that our children grow up knowing that plastic was never designed to be ‘disposable’.  It was designed to be indestructible so what were we thinking?”