As a continuation of the ongoing collaboration between SST’s African Waste Academy and NTNU on the Interns for Sustainability programme, a weekly webinar series is taking place every Wednesday morning at 11:15 (GMT+2).
The first instalment of the series took place on 3 February 2021 with CSIR principal researcher Prof Linda Godfrey presenting “The Value of Waste: Insights from Africa” in which she explores the five main proposed methods to dealing with the leakage of plastics and the resource they represent.
Linda addresses the issue of the search for the “best solution”, reactionary bans of plastic items, and the need for both upstream and downstream interventions to address plastic pollution. The insightful outline of the social and economic value of waste is emphasised along with the numerous opportunities for innovative solutions within the waste hierarchy to promote a more sustainable model in Africa. Using the circular economy approach from the Waste Management Outlook, Linda discusses the numerous benefits of sustainable waste management for both social and economic opportunities.
On 10 February, Peter Manyara, the Regional Coordinator for the MARPLASTICCs Project in Eastern and Southern Africa presented on the initiative hotspotting plastic pollution currently in operation in a handful of countries in both Africa and South Asia (Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam).
Through targeting the pillars of knowledge, capacity, policy and business, the programme aims to help governing bodies in coastal areas to prevent plastic pollution. The South African consumption of plastics per capita with respect to the rest of the world is discussed as well as the recycling rates and gaps in the system which lead to hot spots of litter. Peter also explores the resulting consequences due to different kinds of interventions such as prioritizing separation of plastic items from other waste in households and public spaces.
Dr Isabel Richter, an environmental psychologist discusses the relationship between humans and nature, particularly in a marine context. Human decisions and behaviour frequently result in the loss of plastic into the environment through deliberate and indirect actions.
Using examples from different case studies, Dr Richter discusses the perception of consumers, behavioural predictors, as well as examples of environmental interventions of specific products such as plastic bags. Isabel considers the impacts of pollution on physical and mental health as well as the costs. She refers to research which has explored the predictors of behavioural change as well as numerous case studies covering consumer nudging to social norms.
Bottles, Lids, and the Lockdown
Professor Peter Ryan discusses the origin of marine litter and its migration onto remote, uninhabited islands. With over 30 years experience collecting data, Prof Ryan indicates the need to understand the source of litter in order to implement mitigation methods. Through the use of brand audits, the main sources of litter are identified in a number of coastal cities in different countries.
Operation Clean Spot: A programme of the African Marine Waste Network
Lesley Bloy of the Sustainable Seas Trust discusses the exciting, upcoming Operation Clean Spot. This soon to be launched project of the African Marine Waste Network will call upon everyday citizens to adopt a spot of their choosing and take responsibility for cleaning it and keeping it free from litter.
Developing EPR Policy Recommendations for Plastic Packaging
Lorren de Kock from WWF South Africa talks about the incoming Extended Producer Responsibility policy changes for plastic packaging that will soon be implemented in South Africa. The goals of the programme focus on resource efficiency, improving waste recovery and recycling rates, and lastly, promoting investment in the waste sector, which can aid in job creation when waste is well managed.
Working towards integrating the impacts of marine plastic pollution into life cycle assessment: ATLANTIS and the MarILCA initiative
Professor Francesca Verones from NTNU, discusses the MariLCA initiative and the Atlantis project. These two programmes explore the impacts of marine litter on ocean life by assessing the full life cycle of plastic products.
The Plastic REVolution Foundation: Developing a commercially viable solution to plastic pollution in Ghana – Opportunities & Challenges
Selma Skov Høye from the Plastics REVolution foundation presents on the challenges and opportunities of developing financially viable methods of dealing with plastic pollution. Discussing the less common chemical recycling as a management strategy to complement mechanical recycling, Selma uses their experiences working in Ghana.