press release
Published: 03 July 2020

Surrey launches network to analyse the governance of plastic pollution in Africa

Are current regulations built to prevent plastics polluting land and sea working – particularly in vulnerable countries?

The Governing Plastics Network, led by the University of Surrey and the University of Nairobi, will investigate how local and national governments in six Development Assistance Committee countries frame messages about plastics and analyse how these messages lead to efficient regulation. The Network will also look to understand whether these messages, particularly from the media, filter to the population and change behaviour.

The Network will focus on Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, examining how regulation, governance and enforcement structures affects the use of plastic.

Rosalind Malcolm, co-lead of the Governing Plastics Network and Professor of Law at the University of Surrey, said: “The story about plastics has dramatically shifted over the past 50 years, driven by people finally understanding the damage plastic waste has on our planet. We need to turn that understanding into a body of rules which ensures that plastics do not continue to degrade the environment hurting wildlife and polluting the oceans.”

Nicholas Oguge, co-lead of the Governing Plastics Network and Professor of Environmental Policy at the University of Nairobi said: “The Governing Plastics Network is about understanding how the messages about plastics resonate globally – particularly for countries in East Africa. We want to understand what are the drivers for reducing plastic pollution in those nations, what are people’s attitude towards recycling and, ultimately, what can be done to help reduce waste.”

For more details on the Governing Plastics Network, please visit the Governing Plastics Network webpage here.


Note to editors

For news and updates, the Governing Plastics Network can be followed on

 Twitter @plasticsgov and Facebook - "plasticsgov"

The Governing Plastic Network comprises two international projects:

The Plastics Pollution Governance Framework Network Project is a Global Engagement Network funded by the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund. The project's goal is to share knowledge and expertise around plastics governance approaches in developing countries to reduce environmental pollution by reducing, reusing, recycling and recovering waste material, thereby retaining them in the value chain for longer.

The Wicked Problem of Plastics and the Discourse Surrounding its Governance is funded by the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund through the Arts and Humanities Research Council. This project seeks to improve how we use and dispose of plastic by looking at how we talk about plastic. It examines how local and national governments and organisations frame written, visual and verbal communication about plastic and asks how this can be translated into behaviour change and activism that leads to better laws and more effective governance. The project investigates these discourses to learn how the “plastics story” is told in different countries and how this influences consumers, activists, regulators and other key decision-makers.

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