PUBLIC AWARENESS

Public campaigns that engage and educate local communities on plastic waste impacts can support community action and intervention. 

TARGET USERS: Individuals, Businesses, Industry, Government

KEY CONSIDERATIONS: The success of education and community engagement activities are difficult to measure, though research suggests that education and community engagement are critical factors leading to behavioral change.

    MORE INFORMATION: https://www.plasticdisclosure.org/


    Collections: PREVENTION


    THE PROBLEM

    As reported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2018, one million plastic bottles were bought around the world every minute, while five trillion single-use bags were discharged into the environment annually. Everyday, plastic waste negatively impacts the ecosystem, habitats, human health and sustainable development across the world. Despite the vast scale of the problem, the general public and other important stakeholders have not been adequately engaged and educated on how they can become part of the solution.

     

    THE SOLUTION

    Broad public awareness can help to change the way that plastic is viewed, used and managed as waste. Education and engagement can be part of a city’s strategic action plan, and can include consumer awareness campaigns, business awareness campaigns, documentary films, school initiatives and cleanup activities, among others.

    The aim is to increase public understanding and shape community perceptions on the dangers of plastic pollution and available solutions, thereby empowering more people and organizations to take action. Community actions can include changes in individual attitudes and purchasing habits, increased sorting and recycling behavior, responsible business processes and practices, among others.

     

    ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS

    Public awareness is critical to the implementation and acceptance of policy solutions that include bans, levies and taxes, extended producer responsibility and refund schemes.

    See Parley for the Oceans, an initiative that supports scoping and strategy for building community engagement on plastics.

     

    CASE STUDY EXAMPLES

    The Plastic Soup Foundation’s Urban Mining Plastic program helps companies, educational institutions, governments and communities in the transition from a linear to a circular economy by managing the whole plastic cycle. From creating awareness & education to the development of products made out from the recycled plastic, Plastic Urban Mining is an all-in-one solution. See more at https://www.plasticsoupfoundation.org/en/plastic-urban-mining/?s

    See the Plastic Disclosure Project, an organization that enables manufacturers, businesses and municipalities to manage and reduce their plastic waste by measuring, understanding, and communicating their plastic footprint: https://www.plasticdisclosure.org/

    Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) cooperated with ministries, branches and localities to organize workshops to raise public awareness of the adverse impacts of the use of plastic bags in the community. Notably, the MONRE implemented a number of communication solutions on the harmful effects of plastic waste, such as the emulation movement themed “Take action to reduce plastic and nylon pollution”, calling on all officials and employees of the environmental sector, as well as their families and relatives, to “say no to single-use plastics and nylon bags”. The ministry also coordinated with many localities from across the country to organize campaigns collecting and recycling plastic waste and nylon bags from markets, supermarkets, trade centers and residential areas, aiming to encourage consumers to minimize the use of single-use plastic products and non-degradable nylon bags, and give up the habit of littering indiscriminately. Most recently, the MONRE collaborated with the Hanoi People's Committee and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee to launch the national movement, “Combating plastic waste 2019”, which was enthusiastically acted upon through the central to local levels with practical actions and deeds.

    As for the business community, the ministry requested that units design and seriously implement communication plans on combating single-use plastic waste and nylon bags in various forms. Through these programs, businesses and residential communities are hoped to transform their awareness into specific actions.

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