Plastic pollution is on the agenda this week at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, after the United Kingdom partnered with Pacific island nation Vanuatu to establish the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance. New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ghana have already joined, Downing Street said on Saturday.
The remaining amount, £16m, will go towards improving waste management at a national and city level.
The CCOA has been jointly set up by the United Kingdom and Vanuatu to drive action on plastic waste.
"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".
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".
Outrage on plastic waste was triggered after the documentary Blue Planet II, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, highlighted the scale of the problem.More news: Did Gwyneth Paltrow secretly marry Brad Falchuk at their engagement ceremony?
Chief Executive of the Diamond Light Source, Professor Andrew Harrison, said: "With input from five institutions in three different countries, this research is a fine example of how global collaboration can help make significant scientific breakthroughs".
Announcing the move on Saturday, May dubbed plastic waste a "scourge" on the world's oceans and promised to harness collective action from Commonwealth nations to "effect real change".
Together with CCOA joint chair Vanuatu, UK said it will urge other countries to ban use of microbeads, cut down on single use plastic bags, or take steps to eliminate avoidable plastic waste.
WWF chief executive Tanya Steele said: "This alliance, and the leadership the UK Government is showing through the Commonwealth, demonstrates that we're committed to being part of a global solution".
Professor McGeehan, Director of the Institute of Biological and Biomedical Sciences in the School of Biological Sciences at Portsmouth, said: "Few could have predicted that since plastics became popular in the 1960s huge plastic waste patches would be found floating in oceans, or washed up on once pristine beaches all over the world".
The research was led by teams at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom and the U.S. department of energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).