Cooperation to tackle plastic pollution
9 July 2019
PML researchers will be contributing to a new research project aiming to inspire international action to tackle marine plastic pollution.
‘The Economics of Marine Plastic Pollution: What are the Benefits of International Cooperation?’ project will calculate the economic costs of the environmental damages associated with marine plastic and the benefits of cross-country coordinated action to address the problem.
Dr James Clark, a marine ecosystem modeller at PML and one of the researchers involved in the new project said:
“The problem of marine plastic debris has received a large amount of attention in recent years. However, there is a significant amount of uncertainty regarding how it should be addressed. In this exciting and highly interdisciplinary project, involving economists, social and marine scientists, we will examine the benefits of international cooperation to reduce marine plastic pollution. We hope that our results will help inform the development of improved international agreements that effectively combat the problem.”
The three year study, which involves academics from the University of Stirling, University of Glasgow, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Clark University in America, will focus on collecting data from eight countries bordering the North Atlantic Ocean.
Researchers will seek to map the spatial distribution and movement of marine plastic; calculate the costs of reducing both the stock and flows of plastic in and into the marine environment; develop a framework to determine the economic benefits of different levels of international cooperation in reducing plastic waste; and identify incentives that might encourage a joined-up approach.
PML's work within the project will mainly focus on how plastic waste travels across the North Atlantic and what environmental impacts these plastics cause, particularly in relation to marine biodiversity. Dr Clark will be running simulations to evaluate the flux of plastic between countries on either side of the Atlantic, whilst environmental economist Dr Nicola Beaumont looks at quantifying the marine biodiversity impacts.
This research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).