Sea turtle swimming to surface

Waitrose & Partners fund new ACU Blue Charter Fellowships to tackle marine plastic pollution

Published on 18 April 2019

The ACU's innovative Blue Charter Fellowships scheme is being boosted with funding from Waitrose & Partners.

Building on the success of the first round of ACU Blue Charter Fellowships, 10 new fellowships will support world-class research and innovation in marine plastics, with a focus on three priority areas:

  • preventing plastics from getting into the sea
  • developing sustainable alternatives to plastic
  • cleaning up the seas

These new fellowships will be complemented by bespoke training and a further 30 research impact grants, designed to ensure the outputs and outcomes of these fellowships lead to real impact, by influencing policy, building new research partnerships and developing solutions to marine plastic pollution.

Dr Joanna Newman, ACU Chief Executive and Secretary General, said: 'This funding is testament to the incredible work being carried out by the first cohort of 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, BEIS, the Commonwealth Secretariat and all of our partners for ensuring the continued success of this programme.'

Tor Harris, Head of CSR, Health & Agriculture, Waitrose & Partners, added: '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.

'We are a nation of innovators, and this Government is backing scientists and researchers, investing more than ever before in R&D as part of our modern Industrial Strategy.'

More information

ACU Blue Charter Fellowships are funded through the Commonwealth Marine Plastics Research and Innovation Framework – this expansion to the programme is directly funded by the contribution Waitrose & Partners made to the framework.

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 fellowships support researchers from across the Commonwealth to further their research into marine plastic pollution and develop solutions to this pressing global challenge.

About the ACU

The ACU is an international organisation dedicated to building a better world through higher education.

We believe that international collaboration is central to this ambition. By bringing universities together from around the world – and crucially the people who study and work within them ‒ we help to advance knowledge, promote understanding, broaden minds, and improve lives.

We champion higher education as a cornerstone of stronger societies, supporting our members, partners, and stakeholders as they adapt to a changing world.

For further information, please email

About the Commonwealth Blue Charter

The Commonwealth Blue Charter affirms our collective commitment to preserving and nurturing the world's oceans. Part of this includes tackling marine pollution – specifically the issue of marine plastics, which are drastically affecting the health of our oceans, marine life, and the Blue Economy.

For more information, please visit the Commonwealth Secretariat's website.