Sustainable Plastic Attitudes to Benefit Communities and Their Environments (SPACES)

A new £3.85 million study – led by the University of Stirling – is aiming to understand the public health risks and environmental impact of plastic pollution in developing countries. The project is led by Professor Richard Quilliam, with co-investigators including Extremes members Heather Price and Tony Robertson.

The research will focus on waste management practices in Tanzania and Malawi – two of the world’s poorest countries, and with differing legislation towards plastics – to explore the sources and economic and behavioural drivers of pollution.

The work will seek to identify the best interventions, policies and regulations to best mitigate human health risks posed by plastic pollution in developing countries.

The project will focus on three themes:

The team – comprising natural and social scientists, engineers and economists – will use both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand the socioeconomic and political obstacles in incentivising governments to remove plastic waste and increase sustainable waste disposal. They will also explore the mental health and wellbeing of those living in areas heavily impacted by plastic pollution.

While the work will focus on Tanzania and Malawi, the findings will be relevant to many other countries, including those in sub-Saharan Africa. This is significant as it has been estimated that between 400,000 and one million people die each year in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) due to mismanaged waste. Despite this, waste management in LMICs remains a low priority funding area, with fragmented responsibility between departments and a lack of time or technical expertise to negotiate suitable strategies.

Theme by the University of Stirling