Michael Gove is hoping that the Premier League can lead the way in fighting plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
The environment secretary met with sports leaders from the football top flight as well as swimming and ocean sailing on the HMS Belfast in London today in a bid to slash the seven tonnes of waste and 750,000 plastic bottles generated by the UK’s top sporting events.
The industry has already tackling the issue of plastic balloons, which were axed for this month’s Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast, while water refills were also issued.
On the home front, home of rugby Twickenham has introduced a deposit return scheme for ‘fan cups’ to encourage fans to recycle and reuse while Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur have pledged to phase out single-use plastics.
“Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time and we all have a role to play to tackle the threats our oceans face,” Gove said. “There are few groups which have the global reach and power the sports sector does to inspire change and mobilise action. The industry is already making great strides, and I look forward to seeing how they can build on this progress to be true ambassadors for global change.”
Last year, 27,000 people worldwide earned an income selling street papers, making a total of £23.4 million.
Bill Bush, executive director of the Premier League, who will also join the roundtable alongside endurance swimmer and UN patron of the oceans Lewis Pugh, said: “We also want to use our reach to fans here and across the world to spread the word that each and every one of us can make a difference by choosing to use less plastic.”
The UN Environment programme is co-hosting the event to raise awareness of its own ‘Clean Seas’ campaign while its World Environment Day will also focus on plastic pollution on June 5.
And the event comes a week after Prime Minister Theresa May announced a Commonwealth Games Clean Oceans Alliance – encouraging member states to team up to fight plastic with the UK government funding £61.4 million into research to aid the battle.
The Big Issue is also sparking conversation with our Earth Day Special, out this week, featuring environmental activist Chris Packham’s rallying cry for us to be more Attenborough in the movement to save the planet from climate change. Pick up a copy from a vendor or, if you can’t get to one, in The Big Issue Shop here.