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Roger Spranz

Institution: Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen
Room: ZMT, room 3005
Phone: +49 421 23800 - 128
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Roger Spranz

PhD project:

Reducing the Consumption of Plastic Bags in Indonesia

Plastic bags make up a large part of world’s coastal litter. More than a million birds, marine mammals and turtles die from ingesting plastics each year. Often they die of hunger with a stomach full of plastic, incapable to digest or defecate the plastic material. Another hazard is caused by plastic particles dissolved from the bags that enter the marine ecosystem and ocean food chain. That way not only the health of marine life is severely affected, but also the health of human beings is potentially threatened. As in many developing countries coastal pollution is rampant in Indonesia. The large population of almost 230 million, most of them living near the coast, consume large amounts of plastic bags. Effective waste‐management systems are not everywhere in place and most people show low levels of environmental awareness. Even if used plastic bags are not directly disposed to the sea, they frequently end up there, since many people use rivers to dispose their waste.

This challenging environmental situation has raised my interest in research about ways to reduce the consumption of plastic bags. I want to look at the effectiveness of alternative interventions, known as low‐cost or small‐scale, which do not primarily rely on governmental policies. What are effective instruments for NGOs and businesses? The
interventions will be based on the idea to reduce the consumption of plastic bags by having customers use canvas bags instead.

My research questions are targeting different aspects of this idea. First, it is necessary to understand the current practice thoroughly: Why do people use plastic bags instead of canvas bags and would they use them were they readily available? Which psychological, economic and cultural factors may explain this behavior? How do environmental values shape people’s attitudes and are they relevant to bag use behavior? Secondly, will the interventions that I choose to test ‐ financial incentives, persuasive messages and personalized approaches ‐ be effective in changing people’s behavior of using canvas bags more frequently? Will the interventions even change people’s environmental awareness?

The methods I want to use for answering my research questions are qualitative interviews, surveys and natural field experiments."

Thesis committee:

Prof. Dr. Achim SchlüterLeibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen
Dr. Andreas KunzmannLeibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen
Dr. Björn VollanUniversity of Innsbruck, Austria