The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a public body of the UK government , has released approximately £20 million to fund the search for solutions to reduce the effects of plastic pollution, thus enabling equitable and sustainable growth. The programme is benefiting researchers in Malawi, Tanzania and Egypt. Call for proposal for this collaborative research was announced in late 2019 with deadline in January of 2020.
Plastic pollution is one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges. According to the National Geographic, over the next ten years 22 million tonnes of plastic waste will enters the ocean. This is the figure calculated after adding in all the Government promises across the globe, which if upheld, can only do this much.
This investment by UKRI aims to reduce plastics impact on communities and the environment by supporting interdisciplinary research teams to investigate ways to combat or mitigate the effects of plastic waste.
In Egypt, for example, experts will study the impacts of plasticulture, which is the use of plastic mulch film in agriculture. The study will quantify the risk that conventional macro-, micro- and nano-plastics pose to the long-term health of agricultural ecosystems. They will also identify practical; economic; socially acceptable and politically viable solutions to help clean up plastic-contaminated land and prevent further pollution through changes in social behaviour and policy.
In Tanzania and Malawi, research will focus on waste management practices to explore the sources and economic and behavioral drivers of pollution. It will compare waste management practices in the two African countries with different plastics management policies, with the aim to understand the public health risks and environmental impacts of plastics pollution (e.g. the incidence of pathogens and the habitat of medically important mosquito species, as well as the potential for microplastics to enter the food chain via urban agriculture) in two African cities.
This programme is under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), an approximately $2 billion fund that supports cutting-edge research to address the challenges facing developing countries.
Photo courtesy / Leonid Danilov (Pixel)
Article by Jedidah Mwangi