Economics modules


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.

Situations in which people fail to cooperate even though it would be in their (collective) interest to do so, are collective action problems. In this module we will explore why plastic pollution is a collective action problem and why the issue has not been resolved, even though it is in our best interest to do so. We will discuss the polluter pays principle as a possible solution to deal with plastic waste. Finally, we will discuss two examples of individuals who are taking responsibility and working to solve plastic pollution.


KEY CONCEPTS: Economic sectors, per capita vs per country, waste management, stakeholders and lobby groups, the tourism sector, environmental justice

KEY CONCEPTS: Collective action problem, tragedy of the commons, typology of goods, free riding common pool resources, polluter pays principle.