Plastic Rubbish Is Costing Lives Says Tearfund

Plastic Rubbish Is Costing Lives Says Tearfund

Tearfund is calling on Australians to sign the petition to solve the global plastics crisis.

Up to a million people die each year because of mismanaged rubbish, according to research by Tearfund.[1] That’s one person every 30 seconds. But the good news? We each have the power to help turn the tide.

That’s the message of The Rubbish Campaign, Tearfund’s new campaign calling on Australian households to reduce their plastic pollution.

The initiative is highlighting the human cost of plastic waste. As landfills grow around the world, and rubbish is burnt, peoples’ health is suffering, agricultural livelihoods are affected, and poverty is becoming worse for vulnerable communities.

While we don’t see this cost up close in Australia, we are contributing to the problem: Aussies are now producing 100 kilograms of plastic waste each year per person, totalling 2.5 million tonnes.[2] Between 2000 and 2019, plastic waste generation more than doubled.[3]

An example of communities affected by rubbish is the slum areas of Mumbai, India. Poonam Nair, from Tearfund’s partner Saahasee in India says there is nowhere for rubbish to go in these places.

“People literally don’t have a place to put their garbage… it’s become normal practice to put plastic waste in the drains,” she said. “The ramification is that most of the time these drains are blocked.

“The population is increasing every month, so plastic pollution is also increasing. The waste that collects all over the community is impacting health.”

How Australians Can Help

Thankfully the world is starting to take action. In 2023 and 2024, nearly 200 governments are meeting to develop the first-ever international agreement on plastic pollution. This could help end the world’s rubbish problem.

And already, Australia has shown a commitment to ending the crisis by joining the ‘High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution’.

Now Tearfund is urging Australians to care for their global neighbours by signing their petition, calling on the Australian Government to weigh in on global negotiations in the plastics treaty.

Tearfund CEO Matthew Maury wants Australians to see the issue not as an environmental emergency but a social one.

“A concerted global effort is needed to address this problem and deal with the scourge of plastic pollution and its impacts on poverty. The plastics treaty is a unique opportunity to do this,” he said. “Behind the mountains of rubbish that pollutes and spoils our earth and oceans, our lives are made harder, and even cut short, by its impact.

“Plastic pollution is harming people’s livelihoods, and undermining the progress made in recent decades to end poverty. It is literally making people sick. Dumping and burning of rubbish releases toxic fumes, floods communities and is causing up to a million deaths each year.” Mr Maury said.

Take Action

For more information or to arrange an interview - please contact Rachel at

[1] Tearfund ‘Burning Question Report 2019’

[2] Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment: National Plastics Plan 2021

[3] OECD report

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