The world seemed to turn a “blind eye” to the mounting evidence of plastic pollution in the oceans, Prince Charles has said.
The heir to the throne said he had long had a “deep frustration” with the lack of action over mounting plastic in the seas, but added he is pleased to see a growing level of concern.
Addressing environmentalists and businessman in London, he said: “Over the last few years, the awareness and science about the negative impacts of plastic waste in our ocean have grown significantly.
“Many of you, I know, shared my deep frustration that the world was seemingly just turning a blind eye to this mounting evidence.
“Thankfully, the level of concern has now changed, not least because of your efforts.”
Prince Charles was speaking at the International Sustainability Unit at the British Academy, which he established in 2010 to help tackle environmental issues such as climate change, deforestation and marine health.
He added: “Even though the challenge at hand is extremely grave and unbelievably urgent, I for one at least find some encouragement from the fact that the legacy of plastic in the environment is now very much on the global agenda and in the public consciousness.
“In a culture where the forces of competition so often swamp the imperative of co-operation, breaking out of the silos that slow down progress is even more of an achievement.
“The nightmare result of eight million tons of plastic entering the ocean every year is set to get worse rather than better.
“We cannot, indeed must not, allow this situation to continue… I do fervently pray that you will all do your utmost to work together in the coming year to make real, substantial progress.
“It could not be more critical that you succeed.”
Prince Charles is known for his work on environmental issues and has been raising plastic pollution concerns since the early 1970s.
Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign has been encouraging people to reduce their single use plastics.
:: You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com