£61-million Commonwealth fund to tackle plastic pollution

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The Alliance will press fellow Commonwealth nations to cut down on single-use plastics and ban microbeads.

"But they ended up going a step further and accidentally engineered an enzyme which was even better at breaking down PET plastics", said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed U.S. journal.

So far New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ghana have joined the alliance, and May hopes to encourage the remaining 48 members of the Commonwealth to follow suit at the Heads of Government Meeting, which takes place over the next four days (16-20 April).

UK International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: "The scourge of plastics is a global environmental challenge - and one that overwhelmingly impacts the livelihoods and health of the world's poorest people".

"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 now find it".

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Researchers from Britain's University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory made the discovery while examining the structure of a natural enzyme thought to have evolved in a waste recycling centre in Japan.

From the funding announced by May, £25 million ($35.8 million) will be used to help researchers investigate the issue of marine plastic from a scientific, economic and social perspective.

In addition, £20m will be earmarked to tackle plastic and other environmental pollution generated in developing countries.

It was also confirmed that from later in 2018, the Department for International Development will match public donations to tackle the issue of plastic waste in the world's oceans and rivers, "in recognition of the passionate response of the United Kingdom public to the issue". Today Sky announced National Geographic has pledged $10m towards the broadcaster's Sky Ocean Ventures, an investment arm dedicated to supporting business ideas to tackle ocean plastic. However it is a much more hard process and an expensive one compared to other materials, but it seems that scientists might have come up with a way to deal with our plastic problem.

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