The results

Have you heard the news? All over the world, communities living in poverty are rising up against a tide of plastic waste.

And it’s not just overseas. Here in the UK, over 5,000 of you signed our petition asking the UK Government to help clean up the rubbish problem.

Excitingly, on 15 April, in the lead up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Prime Minister Theresa May announced financial support totalling £61.4 million to help developing countries tackle the issue of waste. So we’d like to say a huge thank you for putting your faith into action by praying and signing our petition. When we speak out together we can make a real difference!

This announcement is a significant step forward in tackling plastics and poverty. These issues are intimately linked, as uncollected waste has a devastating impact on people in poverty. It’s a shocking reality that 2 billion people around the world don’t have any waste collection. This forces them them to dispose of their waste in rivers or by burning it – creating health hazards as well as polluting the environment.

Rashid and his family of five live in Islamabad, Pakistan, in a slum on a bank of a stream. Nobody comes to collect their rubbish, so they have no choice but to discard it in the stream or burn it. Neither is a good option. Waste left in rivers or drains causes blockages and flooding, leading to the spread of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, while burning rubbish gives off toxic fumes and creates breathing difficulties.

Very little of the global aid budget – just 0.3 per cent per year – is currently spent on tackling this problem. Yet Tearfund is hearing from communities around the world, from Latin America to Asia, who are coming up with creative, cost-effective solutions. In Pakistan, for example, our partner PMS is keen to scale up a community-based recycling project which will clean up the slums, improve health and create jobs for local people. People are taking the initiative and getting stuck in, but they need support from their own government and richer countries.

The UK Government has shown it intends to do more in this area, and the money they have committed is a good start. However, if three per cent of all aid globally was spent on waste management, the 2 billion people currently without waste collection could be reached and the amount of plastics entering the ocean could be halved.

We will keep working with our partners to call on governments to go further and faster with local communities to solve the waste crisis together. We won’t stop until we see a win-win for people in poverty and our oceans.


  • Thank God for the Prime Minister’s announcement, and pray that the UK Government will follow through on its pledge for greater financial support.
  • Pray for people like Rashid, whose lives are blighted by toxic waste. Pray that governments around the world will have their eyes opened to this issue.
  • Pray that the target of 3 per cent of global aid to be used on waste management will be reached.
Kit Powney

Kit Powney is passionate about campaigning and works in our Tearfund Action team, when she isn't in the office you will find her exploring the great outdoors in some way shape or form.