Can Young Generations Recognize Marine Plastic Waste as a Systemic Issue?

Date of publication 15 June 2020

Authors Uehara, Takuro.

Sources Sustainability : 12 (DocId: 7) 2586.



This study reports preliminary survey results exploring whether children can recognize marine plastic waste as a systemic issue, especially regarding stock-flow relationships and delays. A systemic understanding of this issue is key to reducing marine plastic waste and to avoid its irreversible effects. Reducing the inflow of waste does not necessarily reduce the waste accumulated in the ocean, unless its rate becomes smaller than the outflow (e.g., cleanup). Delays due to a wait-and-see policy will result in irreversible effects, such as animals swallowing plastic waste, and plastic waste becoming microplastics that are difficult to clean up. A questionnaire survey was conducted during workshops and poster sessions at an event for sustainability in Japan. Participants were children from fourth grade to high school (9-18 years old). Participants were shown to have a limited systematic understanding of marine plastic waste. The majority incorrectly adopted pattern matching (70.6%) and failed to draw correct inflow and outflow curves (94.1%). The majority (83.6%) did not point out delay issues. This study indicates a need to correct mental models to understand the issue by introducing system education.

TSC Opinion

Une étude portant sur des enfants japonais de 9 à 18 ans, montre que leur connaissance de la pollution plastique marine est très limitée. En particulier le lien entre les débris marins et les objets plastiques du quotidien est faible. Les sources de pollution et leur diffusion dans l’environnement et dans l’océan ne sont pas compris de même que les impacts. Et si on transposait la chasse aux pokémons en chasse aux débris plastiques sur les applications pour smartphone ?

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