A collaborative project to help reduce plastic waste in low and middle income countries

The plastic problem

The world is facing an urgent urban challenge — we need to transition to more equitable, sustainable and resilient cities.

In 2019, the world generated 300 million tonnes of plastic waste. Cities in the global south are disproportionately impacted. Many low income countries have very limited waste disposal infrastructure and inadequate management of plastic waste is exacerbated by the import of waste from high income countries. Plastic waste respects no borders and we are now witnessing ubiquitous global plastic pollution, on land, in the air and in rivers and oceans. 

About the project

The aim of this project is to identify opportunities to tackle the problem of urban plastic pollution, focusing on two case study sites in low income countries — Nairobi, Kenya and Sylhet, Bangladesh.

It is an interdisciplinary and international collaboration drawing contributions from a wide range of stakeholders, including community activists, local governments, businesses and academia. Sustainable solutions will only be effective if they can be implemented in the real world.

This project is funded by Research England QR Global Challenges Research Fund institutional funding.

Project methods

We will use creative and participatory methods to raise awareness, explore attitudes and perceptions around plastic waste, and to co-develop possible solutions. Methods will include visual arts, music and theatre.

We'll share the project findings in a south-south knowledge exchange workshop, develop policy change mechanisms including policy briefings, and use creative communications for public engagement and dissemination. Ultimately we aim to support cities in the global south to identify pathways for improved management of plastic waste.

This £180,000 project is funded by Research England QR Global Challenges Research Fund institutional funding and will contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals 11: Sustainable cities and communities, 13: Climate action, and 4: Quality education. The project runs from November 2019 to July 2021 and contributes to the University's strategy to ‘significantly build our global reach’ through partnerships and collaborations with industry, policy makers and academia.


Project Partners and Advisors


Stephen Fletcher Portrait

Professor Steve Fletcher

Theme Professor (Environment and Sustainability)

School of the Environment Geography and Geosciences

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

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Cressida Jane Bowyer Portrait

Media ready expert

Dr Cressida Bowyer

Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries

PhD Supervisor

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Miss Sayyidah Salam

Senior Project Administrator

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Louis Netter Portrait

Mr Louis Netter

Senior Lecturer

PhD Supervisor

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Matthew Robert Anderson Portrait

Dr Matthew Anderson

Senior Lecturer

Portsmouth Business School

Faculty of Business and Law

PhD Supervisor

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Jonathan Stephenson Potts Portrait

Dr Jonathan Potts

Programme Lead (Post Graduate Taught)

PhD Supervisor

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Revolution Plastics

From developing sustainable fashion to combatting microplastics, we’re putting our research into practice, working with local groups, organisations, businesses and individuals to solve the planet's plastic problem.

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Sustainability and the Environment

In this research theme – one of five within the University – we're exploring topics like climate change and plastic pollution, and focusing on how we can help preserve the planet.