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As government leaders gather in Canada to continue talks on the UN global plastics treaty, one church in Central America has demonstrated just how much difference tackling plastic pollution can make to a community.

Approximately 3600 miles south of where government leaders will gather for the fourth stage of the treaty negotiations, Tearfund, an international aid and development charity, has been working alongside a church leader in El Rincón, Honduras, to make a real difference in the lives of around 4000 people. A banner hangs outside the church saying ‘Lets be part of the solution, not the pollution’.

Seen as the most important international environmental agreement since the Paris Climate deal, the talks, now in the fourth stage of five, could lead to the first legally-binding global treaty on plastic pollution, and improve the lives of billions of people around the world. If negotiations are successful, the treaty could come into force in 2025.

Pastor Wilfredo Vásquez, who leads the Church of God in El Rincón said: “We had a serious problem with trash, there was waste everywhere in our community. Trash on the football fields, trash around the school and children's playgrounds.

“A lot of the rubbish was being burnt, items included plastics, clothes and nappies. Before there was never any garbage collection. Therefore our community was very dirty. As a church we have worked on cleaning up the community, and have run awareness campaigns about the use of plastics and the burning of garbage in the community.

“It’s vital that a strong UN plastics treaty is agreed so it can help communities like ours where there was previously no waste collection.”

Alongside Tearfund, Wilfredo has also worked with community leaders and the local government and now a garbage truck goes through the town once a week collecting waste. A youth group from the church also collects and recycles plastic, while the other recyclable waste is collected at segregation points across the community.

Yosely Andino, 48, who lives in El Rincón and used to burn her waste, once needed a nebuliser for her granddaughter Valery who suffered breathing difficulties. “One of my granddaughters suffered chest pain, due to smoke pollution, the air was contaminated, but now the way we do it [dispose of waste], it is no longer burned and she has improved in that she no longer gets sick.”

Two billion people, one in four, worldwide don’t have access to safe waste collection and disposal. This devastating reality means that as many as one person every 30 seconds is dying globally from illnesses and diseases caused by living near dumped and burnt waste, such as heart disease, cancer and respiratory infections.

Naomi Sánchez, 19, who helps with recycling initiatives at the church, added: “When we hear that countries and governments are coming together to deal with plastic problems we feel happy because it is an initiative that will help us conserve our planet.”

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports that 40 million people lacked access to waste collection across Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018.

“While the waste collection and bins being installed in El Rincón will make a big difference to this community, there are hundreds of thousands more communities like this. We need far more action from governments and companies, which is why an ambitious treaty is essential,” said Miriam Moreno, Tearfund's Environmental and Economic Sustainability regional manager for Latin America and the Caribbean, who works alongside the church and is attending the UN talks.

“The treaty is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring about an end to the worldwide problem of plastic pollution, this means driving down plastic production and making sure the rest is safely collected and recycled. The rubbish problem has been solved in El Rincón for now, that’s what a legally binding plastics treaty could do.”

Tearfund will be at the UN talks (also called INC4) in Ottawa, Canada from April 23 to 29 2024 calling on governments to push for a treaty that fully addresses the impacts of waste on people living in poverty, by ensuring four things are mandatory in the final agreement:

  • Reduction: legally binding targets to reduce plastic production and scale up reuse solutions
  • Recycling: universal access to waste collection and recycling
  • Respect: support for waste pickers, including a just transition
  • Response: mechanisms to ensure businesses and governments take action 

For more information on Tearfund’s campaign on the UN plastics treaty visit 


For further information, higher resolution images and interview requests call Melissa Barnston on 07929 335 146 or for out of hours media enquiries please call +44 (0)7929 339813.

All photos should be credited to: None Guevara/Tearfund 2024. 

Notes to editors 

  • Tearfund has recently published a new research paper called Solid waste management in the UN Plastics Treaty with leading academics explaining why solid waste management is crucial to ending plastic pollution and including recommendations for the treaty talks in Canada. 

Tearfund is a Christian charity that partners with churches in more than 50 of the world’s poorest countries. We tackle poverty through sustainable development, responding to disasters and challenging injustice. We believe an end to extreme poverty is possible. Tearfund is also a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee. For more information about the work of Tearfund, please visit

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