IAESV member Seun Kolade is co-investigator on a 12 month project funded by the EPSRC under their ‘Digital Innovations for Development in Africa’ call. The project began in May 2020 and is led by Muyiwa Oyinlola in the Institute for Energy and Sustainable Development. 

The project brings together a multisectoral collaborative network, aimed at utilising digital innovations (DIs) to manage and accelerate the transition to a circular plastic economy (CPE) in Africa. Plastic pollution is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. While plastics are an indispensable material due to an array of unique properties and wide-ranging benefits, they pose significant environmental and health problems which are becoming increasingly intractable. Poor infrastructure and inadequate waste management systems exacerbate this problem and the environmental impact of plastic waste in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs).

The rise in awareness of the circular economy is a crucial part of the sustainability discourse and has been tipped to play a significant role in the global shift to a more sustainable planet. Its key principles; reuse, recycle, redesign, remanufacture, reduce and recover, will make a significant impact in managing the high volumes of waste in the ecosystem- therefore creating a shift towards a circular plastic economy. This coupled with digital innovations, such as mobile applications, remote sensing and artificial intelligence; provide a game-changing approach, which could address the plastic waste challenge in Africa.

The project aims to characterise, cluster, synergise and optimise digital innovations that would support a transition to a circular plastic economy in Africa. It has the following specific objectives:

I. Identify and assess digital solutions and innovations that can support the transition to a circular plastic economy.

II. Characterise technical, political, gender, socio-economic and cultural factors that can influence the transition to a circular plastic economy.

III. Identify policy, research questions and capacity building opportunities for promoting digital tools and innovations.

IV. Promote digital tools and innovations for a circular plastic economy.