Professor Peter Ryan, Vonica Perold, Eleanor Weideman, FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Department of Biological Sciences, UCT and Aaniyah Omardien, founder and director of The Beach Co-op NPO

The problem of waste plastics, especially in marine ecosystems, has become a high-profile environmental issue, but it extends much more broadly, especially as most marine plastics come from land-based sources. This course will discuss the evidence for impacts of plastics on marine and freshwater ecosystems globally, and more specifically in the southern African region. It will also report the distribution and abundance of plastics in marine and freshwater ecosystems in South Africa and adjacent oceans, based on sampling at sea, in rivers and on land. The extent of the problem will be compared with other regions of the world. The course will conclude with an exploration of the various options being pursued to tackle the waste plastics problem in South Africa.



1. Crisis, what crisis? Are environmental plastics really a problem? Professor Ryan & Vonica Perold

2. All at sea: sampling plastic in beaches, at sea and in marine biota  Professor Ryan & Vonica Perold

3. Rivers as conduits for waste plastics Eleanor Weideman

4. Tackling a wicked problem: a multi-faceted approach to reducing environmental plastics Aaniyah Omardien


Recommended reading

Bergmann, M., Gutow, L., Klages, M. (Eds). 2015. Marine Anthropogenic Litter. Springer Open, Cham. (

United Nations Environment Programme. 2018. Single-use plastics: a roadmap for sustainability – fact-sheet for policymakers. UNEP, Nairobi (



Date:  Monday 14 – Thursday 17 January 
Time: 3.00 pm
COURSE FEES Full: R440,00  Staff and Students R220,00
Venue: LT2 Kramer Law Building UCT