Heriot-Watt leads Vietnam coastal plastic project



Heriot-Watt is to lead a multimillion pound research project that will investigate the impact of plastic pollution on Vietnam’s economy and health, and help find remedies. 

Professor Michel Kaiser, Heriot-Watt’s chief scientist, will work with colleagues from the Lyell Centre and other parts of the university, as well as commercial partners and not-for-profit organisations based in the UK and Vietnam. 

UKRI is investing £20million in five projects through its Global Challenges Research Fund. Heriot-Watt’s is one of five to receive funding, and all will focus on improving our understanding of the impact of plastic pollution in developing countries. 

Professor Michel Kaiser said: “Plastics are an environmental issue around the world, but they are particularly problematic in south-east Asia, and in Vietnam in particular. 

“We will investigate Vietnam’s coastal plastic pollution and its impact on aquaculture and fisheries, tourism and other businesses, as well as the impact on human health and wellbeing. 

“One of our priorities is to quantify the problem, calculating how much plastic is in coastal waters, and where it ends up. We will also evaluate which mitigation measures are most effective, and where.

“We are in an excellent position due to the Lyell Centre’s existing links with universities and policymakers on the ground in Vietnam, and our industrial connections. Sainsbury's, the Co-operative and Labeyrie guardiFine Foods are all part of our team, they’ll be giving us access to their supply chain in Vietnam. 

“NGOs like the Global Ghost Gear Initiative will also form a critical part of our team.”

Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, executive chair of the Natural Environment Research Council, which is leading the programme within UKRI, said: “This investment of £20 million is a vital step in helping world-leading researchers develop realistic and feasible solutions to reduce plastic pollution while enabling equitable, sustainable growth.”

Sources, sinks and solutions for impacts of plastics on coastal communities in Vietnam will launch in January 2021. For more information, contact Michel Kaiser: m.kaiser@hw.ac.uk 


Sarah McDaid