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Environment

The British Government Just Pledged £61 Million to Fight Plastic in Our Oceans

More than 8 million tons of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans every year and there are nearly 500 times more plastic microparticles in our oceans than there are stars in our galaxy.

Plastic in the oceans is a huge — and growing — problem. Thankfully, some governments are stepping up to do something about it.

Yesterday, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the British government is earmarking £61.4 million (nearly $88 million) for a program dedicated to tackling the ever-increasing amount of plastic in the earth’s oceans. She also called on other leaders within the British Commonwealth to join her in taking on this pressing environmental issue.

Take Action: Fight waste to protect our oceans

The fund will be split into three categories, according to The Independent.

About £25 million will help fund research into the causes and effects of marine plastic, while another £20 million will be designated to preventing pollution from manufacturing in developing countries from entering oceans. “Two billion people around the world lack access to effective waste collection, so much of the plastic they use ends up in our oceans,” Tanya Steele, chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund, said at the program’s announcement. The remaining £16.4 million will be dedicated to improving waste management in the United Kingdom.

Read More: This Whale Died From 64 Pounds of Plastic in Its Stomach

“As one of the most significant environmental challenges facing the world today, it is vital that we tackle this issue, so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it,” May said at the announcement.

“The UK public has shown passion and energy in the fight against plastic waste, and I believe the Commonwealth is uniquely placed to further this transformative action.”

Four Commonwealth countries — New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu, and Ghana — have already signed up for the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance. May’s announcement comes ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London next week, where she is expected to asked all 52 nations to join the pact.

Read More: This Major UK Supermarket Chain Just Pledged to Be Totally Plastic Free by 2023

Plastic waste has been a cause of public outcry in the UK, particularly after the airing of the BBC series Blue Planet II highlighted the problem, according to The Guardian and The Independent.

In January, May vowed to eliminate plastic waste in the UK by 2042 — a target environmental groups criticized as not ambitious enough — and British supermarket chain Iceland has led the way on the issue in the private sector by promising to be plastic free by 2023.

Global Citizen campaigns to reduce plastic waste around the world. You can take action on this issue here.