Plastic waste in Nairobi © Dennis Weche

Catalysing sustainability transitions in cities in the global south suffering from severe plastic pollution

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.

Global Challenges Research Fund and UN Sustainable Development Goals

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

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