The Costs of Environmental Degradation from Plastic Pollution in Selected Coastal Areas in the United Republic of Tanzania

Plastic pollution is much more than an ocean issue, and it has consequences that cannot be assigned a monetary cost, such as the value of life on Earth or widespread harm to human health. That said, financial costs of plastic pollution do include affect tourism, impacting places with tourism-centered economies—such as Tanzania and Zanzibar. The objective of this study is to assess and valuate the costs of environmental degradation from marine plastic pollution, identify and prioritize critical areas and issues, and provide recommendations for effective marine plastic pollution control in select coastal areas in Tanzania and Zanzibar.

This thesis by Christine Bühler at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland, compares the legal solutions regulating disposables in the European Union (EU), Canada, and Switzerland. It analyzes whether they explicitly intend or implicitly are capable of reducing environmental burdens caused by producing, using, and disposing of such goods. The research findings illustrate that numerous existing legal solutions are beneficial for preventing environmental harm, yet, many of them should be revised in order to have an even greater impact.

Environmental policy specialists evaluate the effects of China’s Operation National Sword on the U.S. plastics recycling system. The far-reaching effects of this national policy have effected programs and the global economy, and appear to have set forth a major shift in the plastics recycling system.

Scientists document how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated already overwhelming levels of plastic pollution on the planet. They emphasize that “there are solutions to the global plastic pollution crisis,” and “companies and governments must be held accountable for the sale of single-use plastics and move towards a net plastic reduction and then a single-use plastic elimination strategy” with simultaneous removal of plastics from the environment.

Tearfund explores the crucial links between plastic pollution and global poverty, and the role the new Plastics Treaty can play in addressing both of these issues, in its report Plastic pollution and poverty: A briefing to inform negotiations on a UN treaty on plastics. The report is available in English (and soon, in Spanish, Portuguese, and French languages).

In the paper, Tearfund highlights the impacts of plastic pollution on people’s health, environment and livelihoods in low- and middle-income countries. It outlines the role of the informal waste sector and explores what a ‘just transition’ to a safe, inclusive circular economy would mean for them and for communities in LMICs who depend on plastic.

Tearfund demonstrates how the Global Plastics Treaty provides a key opportunity to make real progress in tackling poverty, both by lessening the impact of plastic pollution on people living in poverty through reducing use of plastics, and by seizing the opportunity to create improved livelihoods within a circular economy in plastics.  

Much of what you’ve heard about plastic pollution may be wrong. Instead of a great island of trash, the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of manmade debris spread over hundreds of miles of sea—more like a soup than a floating garbage dump. Recycling is more complicated than we were taught: less than nine percent of the plastic we create is reused, and the majority ends up in the ocean. And plastic pollution isn’t confined to the open ocean: it’s in much of the air we breathe and the food we eat.  

In Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis, journalist Erica Cirino brings readers on a globe-hopping journey to meet the scientists and activists telling the real story of the plastic crisis. From the deck of a plastic-hunting sailboat with a disabled engine, to the labs doing cutting-edge research on microplastics and the chemicals we ingest, Cirino paints a full picture of how plastic pollution is threatening wildlife and human health. Thicker Than Water reveals that the plastic crisis is also a tale of environmental injustice, as poorer nations take in a larger share of the world’s trash, and manufacturing chemicals threaten predominantly Black and low-income communities.  

There is some hope on the horizon, with new laws banning single-use items and technological innovations to replace plastic in our lives. But Cirino shows that we can only fix the problem if we face its full scope and begin to repair our throwaway culture. Thicker Than Water is an eloquent call to reexamine the systems churning out waves of plastic waste.