Skip to main content
School of Law

Evaluating the Governance of Transboundary Plastic Waste Trade from the UK to Türkiye

This Faculty of Humanities and and Social Sciences Student Bursary Project is open to Turkish speaking LLM students at Queen Mary University of London.

Waste is a global and growing problem. It is estimated that the world is expected to generate 3.4 billion tonnes of waste annually by 2050, compared to 2.01 billion tonnes in 2016 (Kaza, et al. 2018).  Plastic waste is a particular problem due to the environmental impact of this waste.

This project seeks to map the fragmented regulatory framework governing transboundary plastic waste trade from the UK to to critically evaluate their implementation and enforcement mechanisms and highlight areas for reform. This work seeks to collaborate and complement economic analysis conducted at the London School of Economics (CEP) by Dr Swati Dhingra.  

Project lead

Dr Kamala Dawar, Senior Lecturer in International Economic Law, Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS):

Relationship between this project and your research or scholarship

My research expertise is in the area of global economic governance, focusing on international trade law and sustainable development.
I am undertaking a comparative analysis of the transboundary plastic waste trade from i) the UK (London) to Türkiye and ii) the US (New York) to Mexico.

My research focuses on plastic waste trade. Global plastic production has increased 160 times since the 1950s, from 2 million metric tons (MMT) in 1950 to 322 MMT in 2015 (Brooks, Wang, and Jambeck (2018)). The vast majority of such plastic waste - 84% or 4900 MMT - has been disposed of in landfills or in the environment (Geyer, Jambeck, and Law (2017)). Untreated waste degrades the environment, such as through ocean pollution and methane emissions from waste sites, and poses health and safety risks for waste handlers and communities living near disposal sites. For example, UN Environment (2018) estimates that 99 percent of seabirds would have ingested plastic waste by 2050.

Following Brexit, the UK is no longer subject to EU regulation on Waste Shipment but remains a party to the Basel Convention on transboundary waste, to which the US is not. Both are covered by the OECD Council Decision on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations and WTO obligations on cross-border trade. Both the UK and US have also entered into bilateral agreements on cross-border waste management. 

My research undertakes a critical legal analysis of governance of transboundary plastic waste trade comparing the UK and US. It seeks to identify more effective legal or hostile architecture to ensure greater compliance and deter recidivism in this area.

All Research Assistant’s will be acknowledged in any resulting publications or information dissemination.

Project work and outcomes

The student will be undertaking desk research to identify the domestic and international / regional laws and case law applicable to the transboundary movement of plastic waste between the UK and Türkiye. The student will develop a bibliography and collect relevant media items on the movement of plastic waste between the UK and Türkiye. 

The research focuses on two case study advanced economies: the UK and the US, examining their respective transboundary exports of plastic waste to Türkiye and Mexico respectively from a legal and economic perspective.

Student skills and knowledge required

A student who speaks Turkish and is familiar with Turkish society and legal frameworks, implementing legislation and case law for transboundary plastic waste trade, the Basel Convention, the OECD Council Decision and WTO legal provisions for cross-border waste trade, along with relevant case law.

Start date and work pattern: 

  • Start date 3 April 2024.
  • 38 hours spread over 8 weeks
  • After a face-to-face meeting discussing the specific aims of the project we will formally agree to a detailed terms of reference for the research project. There will be biweekly 1-1 consultation sessions to review the work in progress and to address any challenges, share any immediately available research/ information, and assess any outstanding work to be completed.

Application and funding details

Students must submit applications to Ryan Shand, Research Manager: by 12 noon on 13 March 2024.

We anticipate that funding will be disbursed in two instalments, both subject to confirmation by the academic project lead that the student has been working appropriately.

The first instalment (40% of the award) will be paid at the end of May 2024; the second (60% of the award) will be paid upon overall completion.

Back to top