Public Perceptions of Plastics Pollution – Communications and Social Change

Theme: Environmental Hazards & Pollution

Secondary Supervisor:

Susan Jobling

Institute of Environment, Health and Societies, Brunel

Susan Jobling's Profile Picture

Project Description:

Plastic pollution is widespread in the environment, entering the oceans, accumulating in gyres and ingested by organisms at all trophic levels from plankton to whales with potentially lethal consequences. By entering the food chain and acting as a carrier for persistent organic pollutants there is also concern for human health impacts through the consumption of seafood. Plastic pollution is currently a hot topic. It has become the subject of an award winning documentary film “A Plastic Ocean” (2017, Netflix) headed by film producer, Jo Ruxton, of Blue Planet, Saving Planet Earth, Pacific Abyss, and LIFE.

This project involves close collaboration with Jo Ruxton of the Plastic Oceans Foundation ( It provides a unique opportunity to develop an environmental social sciences perspective concerning public attitudes and behaviour to plastics in everyday life. The study involves innovative mixed methods such as visual and textual analysis, qualitative research with different stake holders and tracking public engagement via social media. There will be opportunities to conduct scientific research overseas and to shape the project in line with existing interests and expertise (e.g. sampling microplastics, working with coastal communities). A key aim is to assess the impact of media messages on attitudes and behaviour and the willingness of different publics to engage with positive solutions to the plastics problem.

Policy Impact of Research:

By understanding public attitudes, behaviours and their engagement with solutions your research will help the Plastic Oceans Foundation to influence regulation, technological innovation and changes in business practices to create solutions to the plastics pollution problem.

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