Consumer-based actions to reduce plastic pollution in rivers: A multi-criteria decision analysis approach
The use and management of single use plastics is a major area of concern for the public, regulatory and business worlds. Focusing on the most commonly occurring consumer plastic items present in European freshwater environments, we identified and evaluated consumer-based actions with respect to their direct or indirect potential to reduce macroplastic pollution in freshwater environments. As the main end users of these items, concerned consumers are faced with a bewildering array of choices to reduce their plastics footprint, notably through recycling or using reusable items. Using a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis approach, we explored the effectiveness of 27 plastic reduction actions with respect to their feasibility, economic impacts, environmental impacts, unintended social/environmental impacts, potential scale of change and evidence of impact. The top ranked consumer-based actions were identified as: using wooden or reusable cutlery; switching to reusable water bottles; using wooden or reusable stirrers; using plastic free cotton-buds; and using refill detergent/ shampoo bottles. We examined the feasibility of top-ranked actions using a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) to explore the complexities inherent in their implementation for consumers, businesses, and government to reduce the presence of plastic in the environment.