Economics 1



Negative externalities explain why plastic pollution is also an economic problem; it explains that the costs of pollution are not accounted for in the market. In this module we will explore the concept of externalities in relation to the plastic pollution problem. We will also briefly focus on the issue of environmental justice. A case study of tourism in Bali illustrates the issue of negative externalities of plastic pollution, and discusses possible solutions.


Key concepts: externalities, waste management, economic sectors, stakeholders, per capita, environmental justice



  1. Introduction: What are externalities?

    1. Positive and negative externalities.

    2. Plastic pollution: A negative externality.

  2. The root of the problem

    1. How much of it? Plastic in numbers.  

    2. Per country vs per capita waste.

    3. Stakeholders and lobby groups.

    4.  Environmental justice

  3. Case Study: Tourism in Bali

    1. Tourists and plastic pollution

    2. Working on solutions: Tourist tax

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module students:

  •  Can describe the difference between positive and negative externalities, and how plastic pollution is explained as a negative externality.

  • Can explain that negative externalities indicate market failure, and can discuss options on how this can be  solved through incentives in the market.

  • Can list which actors play a role in the issue, and explain where the problem comes from .

  • Can describe to concept of environmental justice in the context of plastic pollution.

  • Are able to apply the concept of negative externalities to various case studies.