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Waitrose & Partners funds new fellowships aimed at tackling plastics

Waitrose & Partners is funding a number of University fellowships to boost new thinking on how to find, test and share effective solutions to tackle plastic pollution.

The Blue Charter Fellowships, run by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), will receive funding from the supermarket for ten new fellowships to lead world-class research and innovation in marine plastics.

Marine plastics has become a pressing global environmental problem, with figures showing that plastic in our oceans will outweigh fish by 2050 if current trends continue. While work is being done to address the issue, research isn’t always shared globally.

The new fellowships will focus on three priority areas: preventing plastics from getting into the sea; developing sustainable alternatives to plastic; and cleaning up the seas.

The funding will also support 40 research impact grants, designed to ensure the outcomes of the fellowships lead to real-world impact, with research and information shared widely.

Fellowships will be hosted by a number of the 520 universities across the Commonwealth, in 50 different countries. The scheme will also work with industry partners, including Waitrose & Partners, to deliver industry-focused fellowships.

Tor Harris, Head of CSR, Health & Agriculture, Waitrose & Partners, said, “Tackling plastics is a global issue. That’s why Waitrose & Partners is supporting insight and innovation that will identify sustainable solutions that will be shared here in the UK and further afield for greater impact.”

Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, said: “Plastic pollution in our ocean is a global crisis that we cannot afford to ignore. This investment by Waitrose is exactly what we want to see from the private sector, bolstering government investment in research that will tackle the grand challenges that affect us all.

Dr Joanna Newman, ACU Chief Executive and Secretary General, said, “This funding is testament to the incredible work being carried out by the Blue Charter fellows. These researchers are at the forefront of driving social change around the issue of marine plastics pollution and these new fellowships will further contribute to the aims of the Commonwealth Blue Charter.

'We’re very grateful to Waitrose & Partners, BEIS, the Commonwealth Secretariat and all of our partners for ensuring the continued success of this programme.”

Waitrose first announced it would give half a million pounds from the 5p carrier bag levy to the Commonwealth Marine Plastics Research and Innovation Framework in 2018. The levy funds have also supported the Marine Conservation Society to support its beach and river cleans across England, Scotland & Wales.

More recently, Waitrose announced the launch of a £1m fund to give money to projects designed to reduce unnecessary plastic and tackle plastic pollution. Plan Plastic - The Million Pound Challenge will award money, over one year, to projects that can demonstrate an impact on plastic pollution now and in the future.