Improve water supply in poorer nations to cut plastic use, say experts

Focusing on improving the water supply in developing nations could be a powerful way to fight the scourge of plastic waste in the oceans, experts have said, highlighting that the issue has received little attention. “The obvious solution is building a safe water supply infrastructure which ensures quality supply.” The extent of the growing plague of plastic waste in our oceans has been laid bare in recent years, prompting widespread calls for action around the world. This is necessary to remove the menace to marine life, but methods of preventing plastic waste from reaching the ocean in the first place must also take priority, according to the report published on Wednesday. Its key recommendations are to improve wastewater and stormwater management, and to build local systems for safe food and water which would remove the need for plastic bottles. Gallery: 49 years of environmental victories, in photos (National Geographic)  Wastewater and stormwater management are needed to stop plastic containers from finding their way into rivers, and therefore the sea, when they are discarded. Other experts agreed and called for urgent action to improve water and sewage supplies around the world, which could rescue people from poverty and ill-health, as well as cut plastic waste. “So would improved stormwater processing, although the impact of the latter would be mitigated if people didn’t need to rely on plastic bottled water in the first place.” Providing a safe water supply must also be accompanied by sewage and solid waste collections, added Jonathan Farr, senior policy analyst at the charity WaterAid, pointing to the problem of ditches filling with plastic bottles. Connor points to the example of Italy, where before the coronavirus crisis there were an increasing number of water kiosks offering refills for small sums. “It is also a matter of continuously informing people about waste treatment and the environmental impacts of plastic litter, as it takes both time and effort to change attitudes. “Society, business and nature will benefit from the accelerated reuse and recycling of plastics.” They also called for more research into the impact of a lack of clean drinking water on plastic waste levels, to spur further work on this aspect of the problem.