Plastic doesn’t just harm oceans

Rubina does her best to provide a safe, clean home for her children. But she cannot stop the overwhelming rubbish dumped in the slums where they live.

Pakistan produces more than 20 million tonnes of waste each year (according to the country's Environment Ministry). In cities like Karachi, 40 per cent remains uncollected.

The main problem here is the rubbish.


In Rubina’s community the piles of rubbish are regularly burnt, releasing toxic fumes. Her eldest son Javed, who lives with a disability, is particularly impacted by this. ‘He has severe breathing problems. He feels pain because of the smoke,’ says Rubina.

She worries about the long-term health of her children. And the huge cost of medical bills and transport to hospital is crushing. Match funding from the UK government will be used by our partners in Pakistan to set up recycling hubs in slum communities like Rubina’s, to help improve the lives of families like hers by tackling waste safely.

Home or away

Globally two billion people don’t have their rubbish collected, leading to disease and death for people in poverty.

Those of us who are fortunate to have regular waste collection may not be faced so starkly with the question of rubbish. But the waste we produce must still be dealt with – rubbish is everyone’s problem.

Every year, the UK goes through at least 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups alone – that’s enough to stretch around the world five times! And from October 2017 to October 2018, we exported over 600,000 tonnes of waste plastic packaging to other countries. Our actions have an impact both at home and in other nations.

Every time we choose against single-use plastic it is one less thing in a landfill site or incinerator – or one less thing shipped overseas for another country to dispose of. It’s also one less piece of rubbish in the oceans.