The plastic waste problem- a pledge for volunteer activities

Abstract = 6 times | PDF = 29 times

Main Article Content

Yolande G. Kolstee


In this explorative study, an overview of up to date data on plastic waste is given. Different methods of handling the plastic waste problem are described. The focus lies on volunteering.In order to get a picture of the plastic waste problem, a non-exhaustive overview is given of recent scientific and policy reports in paragraph 2. In paragraph 3 the guidelines of the UNEP and ISWA report on Global Waste Management is described. Other sources emphasize the importance of additional measurements. Those are e.g. self-organising volunteer activities in (higher-) education and volunteer cleaning up activities, respectively described in paragraph 4 and 5. In a small sample investigation to the motives for taken part in cleaning-up activities, undertaken in the Netherlands, Europe, two hypotheses were tested ‘cleaning-up is a token activity’ and ‘taking part in cleaning-up activities promotes environmental-friendly behaviour’.In paragraph 6 the method of the inquiry is described and in paragraph 7 we see from there some evidence for an expanding involvement with pro-environmental behaviour as a result from beach cleaning-up activities. In paragraph 8 we conclude that the need for involvement with the plastic waste problem of all and on all levels, is necessary. The contribution of volunteer activities like self-organizing groups in Universities or cleaning-up projects, seems to be an important factor in behavioural change to tackle the problem of plastic waste.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details


[1] United Nations Human Settlements Programme, “Solid waste management in the world’s cities”, Dunstan House, London, 2010.
[2] “Rubbish pick up resumes in Lebanon in bid to end crisis”,, 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15-Jul -2017].
[3] “About Clean Up the world “, 2017. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 10 -Jul -2017].
[4] “Sustainable Development Goals-United Nations”, United Nations Sustainable Development, 2017. [Online]. Available:
[5] The UN conference in Paris was attended by 150 Heads of State and Government from around the world, as well as by 117 ministers responsible for international climate negotiations. Some of these treaties are administrative in their nature and not immediately visible because some results will come up later, in a few years.
[6] United Nations Environment Programme, “Biodegradable Plastics and Marine Litter. Misconceptions, concerns and impacts on marine environments.”, UNEP, Nairobi, 2015.
[7] While there is some contention over their size, the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration classifies micro plastics as less than 5 mm in diameter. In: Arthur, C., J. Baker and H. Bamford in International Research Workshop on the Occurrence, Effects and Fate of Microplastic Marine Debris. University of Washington Tacoma, Tacoma, WA, USA, 2008.
[8] Two classifications of micro plastics currently exist: primary micro plastics are manufactured and are a direct result of human material and product use (like shampoo, cosmetics and scrubbers), and secondary micro plastics are microscopic plastic fragments derived from the breakdown of larger plastic debris.
[9] “What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?”,, 2017. [Online]. Available: . [Accessed 2-Jun-2017].
[10] A. Andrady, “Micro plastics in the marine environment”, Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 62, no. 8, pp. 1596–1605, 2011.
[11] “Guess how many giant patches of garbage there are in the ocean now”, Popular Science, 2017. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 21-July- 2017].
[12] Eunomia Research & Consulting, “Plastics in the Marine Environment”, Bristol, UK, 2016.
[13] J. Jambeck, R. Geyer, C. Wilcox, T. Siegler, M. Perryman, A. Andrady, R. Narayan, K. Law, “Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean”, Science, vol. 347, no. 6223 pp.768-771, 2015.
[14] R. Geyer, J. R. Jambeck, K. L. Law, “Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made”, Science Advances, vol. 3, no. 7, p. e1700782, 2017.
[15] International Environmental Technology Centre, “Global Waste Management Outlook, Summary for decision-makers”, United Nations Environment Programme, 2015.
[16] GWMO- summary [15], page 4
[17] Stebbing and Tischner, “Changing Paradigms: Designing for a sustainable future”, Cumulus Think Tank, vol.1, Aalto, 2015.
[18] The Ocean Cleanup,, The Ocean Cleanup, 2017. [Online]. Available:[Accessed: 7-Jul-2017]. “At the Ocean Clean up, we’re developing the first feasible method to clean up world’s ocean garbage patches. Five vast areas of Open Ocean, known as the subtropical gyres, act as a trap for ocean plastic. We specifically focus on the North Pacific accumulation zone - also known as ‘the Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ - since about 1/3 of all oceanic plastic is concentrated in that one area between Hawaii and California (Cózar et al., 2014)”.
[19] T. Zareva, “A Norwegian Billionaire Is Building A Giant Boat To Collect Plastic Pollution From The Ocean”, Big Think, 2017. [Online]. Available:[Accessed 15-Jul-2017].
[20] R. Bekkers, R. and A. de Wit, “Participation in volunteering: What helps and hinders”, European Commission, Brussels, 2014.
[21] J. D’Souza, N. Low, L. Lee, G. Morrell, J. Hall, “Drivers of volunteering”, The National Centre for Social Research, UK, 2011.
[22] G. Liarakou, E. Kostelou and C. Gravilakis, “Environmental volunteers: factors influencing their involvement in environmental action”, Environmental Education Research, vol.17, no. 5. pp. 651-673, 2011.
[23] R. Ryan, R. Kaplan and R. Grese, “Predicting Volunteer Commitment in Environmental Stewardship Programmes”, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, vol.44, no.5, pp. 629-648, 2001.
[24] “Jobs Rated Report 2017: Ranking 200 Jobs”,, 2017. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 1-Jul-2017]. In the ranking of 200 jobs garbage collector is on # 187.
[25] "Gemiddeld salaris per beroep – Gemiddeld Inkomen",, 2017. [Online] Available: Garbage collector (in Dutch ‘vuilnisman’), is listed # 224 from 257 professions.
[26] “About Clean Up the World”,, 2017. [Online]. Available
[27] From the Eunomia report [12] this quote; ‘The main contributor is larger plastic litter, including everyday items such as drinks bottles and other types of plastic packaging. Primary micro-plastic emissions also have an important role. The remainder comes from plastics released at sea, the majority as a result of fishing activities – for example, due to lost and discarded fishing gear. 94% of the plastic that enters the ocean ends up on the sea floor. There is now on average an estimated 70kg of plastic in each square kilometre of sea bed. Barely 1% of marine plastics are found floating at or near the ocean surface, with an average global concentration of less than 1kg/km2. This concentration increases at certain mid-ocean locations, with the highest concentration recorded in the North Pacific Gyre at 18kg/km2. By contrast, the amount estimated to be on beaches globally is five times greater, and importantly, the concentration is much higher, at 2,000kg/km2. While some may have been dropped directly, and other plastics may have been washed up, there is a ‘flux’ of litter between beaches and the sea’.
[28] A list of dominating environmental groups: "The environmental groups that dominate Facebook", MNN - Mother Nature Network, 2017. [Online]. Available:
[29] "Waste Hierarchy: Lansink's Ladder by Ad Lansink",, 2017. [Online]. Available:
[30] 5 Steps towards your Green Office. rootability. 2017.
[31] UNiSAF: University Sustainability Framework
[32] and
[33] O. Mont, “Nordic policy brief. Improving Nordic policymaking by dispelling myths on sustainable consumption”, Lund University, Lund, 2013.
[34] E. van der Werff, L. Steg and K. Keizer, “It is a moral issue: The relationship between environmental self-identity, obligation-based intrinsic motivation and pro-environmental behaviour”, Global Environmental Change, vol.23, no. 5, pp 1258-1265, 2013.
[35] M. Anderson, “The New Ecological Paradigm scale”, The Berkshire encyclopaedia of sustainability: measurements, indicators, and research methods for sustainability”. pp. 260-262, 2012.