Prince Charles has warned that our throwaway economy is threatening to choke the world’s oceans with plastic waste.

At the start of a four-day tour to the US, the Prince of Wales used a speech he delivered to around 100 government officials and business leaders in Washington to call on us all to do more to recycle and reuse for the sake of future generations.

He pointed out that half of all marine mammals now have plastic in their gut and added that a study in the journal Science estimates that by 2025 there will be one tonne of plastic in the oceans for every three tonnes of fish.

It is essential we do more to move to a more circular economy — one in which materials are recycled and reused instead of being thrown away, the prince said. “The circular economy is the solution, which speaking as a grandfather, we owe to everyone’s grandchildren to grasp.”

Prince Charles held informal talks with President Barak Obama in Washington before the royal party, which includes Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, moved on to Louisville in Kentucky.

UK Ambassador to the US Sir Peter Westmacott said: “Their trip to Washington and Kentucky will showcase the best of the transatlantic relationship — promoting democratic values, combating climate change, preserving the natural environment, creating opportunities for the next generation.”

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