Plastic pulse of the public: a review of survey-based research on how people use plastic

Tony Walker, Britta Baechler, Laura Markley, Maja Grünzner, Ivy Akuoko, Cressida Bowyer, Claudia Menzel, Sidra Muntaha, Amy MacDonald, Deonie Allen, Emily Cowan

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Plastics pollute all environmental compartments because of human activities and mismanagement. Public perceptions and knowledge about plastic pollution differ among individuals and across different jurisdictions. Targeted survey-based research tools can help measure consumer awareness about the impacts of mismanaged plastics and help identify trends and solutions to reduce plastic use and plastic pollution. This review primarily focused on survey-based research from presenters at the scientific track session TS-2.15 Plastic Pulse of the Public at the 7th International Marine Debris Conference ( and supplemented by contemporary literature. Survey-based research helps provide new insights about public opinions related to the pervasiveness of plastic pollution. This review includes results about consumer use and perceptions of plastic pollution impacts from diverse studies from nine countries including Ghana, Kenya, Bangladesh, Pakistan, United States, Canada, Norway, Germany, and United Kingdom. Overwhelmingly, public perceptions and consumer awareness of the negative impacts of plastic pollution were extremely high, regardless of geographic location. Awareness about the environmental impacts of plastic waste and plastic pollution was highest within younger, white, female, and well-educated demographic groups. However, differences were observed in public attitudes toward willingness to pay for sustainable alternatives, end-of-life plastic uses, unintended consequences, recycling, and mismanagement.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8
Number of pages10
JournalCambridge Prisms: Plastics
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2023


  • plastic pollution
  • citizen science
  • public surveys

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