PAN-microplast is a network that promotes, facilitates, and encourages lateral collaboration and research efforts on plastic pollution in Africa. The network provides a platform not only to celebrate research achievements across Africa but also to enable discussions surrounding the challenges faced by scholars and practitioners working in plastic pollution, from the macro to nano-scale. However, we recognize the technical challenges facing researchers who are tasked with detecting smaller size fractions (<0.5 mm), especially as accessibility and affordability of equipment needed to accurately quantify the smaller plastic particles is a limiting factor in Africa.
Plastic pollution is a key environmental issue across the world. Apart from being a societal nuisance, its persistence in the environment results in the formation of smaller particles, i.e. micro-and nanoplastics, which have been reported to be dangerous to both the environment and human health. Currently, research on plastic pollution is dominated by geographical hubs outside Africa, with a few countries within Africa contributing to the discourse (for example South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, and Kenya). Five African countries (i.e. Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa) have been listed among the top 20 countries estimated to contribute the most to marine plastic pollution. Additionally, research suggests plastic pollution in Africa is expected to worsen as a result of population growth, rapid urbanization, and the shift to a more plastic-driven society.
The main aim of the PAN-microplast Network is to promote collaboration and knowledge exchange across Africa within the field of plastic pollution. The PAN-microplast community will be a place to celebrate and share research that showcases the African perspective. Plastic pollution is a complex and challenging problem, we, therefore, welcome a wide range of scholars that cross sectors and disciplines, and who are open to seeking unorthodox pathways to action
The primary aim of PAN-microplast is to facilitate collaboration and knowledge exchange across Africa within the field of plastic pollution.
We believe this is done by:
- Encouraging collaboration among researchers in Africa, both nationally, regionally and across the continent.
- Supporting and disseminating plastic research in Africa.
- Seeking external collaboration on plastic research, especially in the realm of micro- and nanoplastic contamination as analytical equipment needed for polymer identification is not accessible in many parts of Africa.
- Supporting the current and next generation of African researchers by providing training and capacity building through a range of tools and platforms.
- Providing a platform for the bidirectional exchange of expertise between African researchers and non-African partners.
- Advising policy makers on actions necessary to mitigate plastic pollution on the continent through evidence-based research.