Skip to main content

Kerala - World Bank

On behalf of the World Bank Group, the Research Team at University of Leeds conducted detailed material flow and spatial modelling of plastics pollution in the State of Kerala, in India. This analysis provided the evidence-base needed by the World Bank Group and Keralan State Government to implement a USD 105 million investment in solid waste management infrastructure to help tackle plastics pollution.

Using SPOT model to understand scale and nature of plastic pollution challenge

Mismanaged plastic waste and marine litter are significant issues across India. As a state with a large coastline, a complex riverine system and dense urban coastal areas, Kerala suffers from significant plastic pollution issues.

Working with Resource Futures, the team applied the University of Leeds' SPOT tool.  This provided a detailed assessment of the types and nature of plastic pollution being generated, and its flows in the environment. The team provided a detailed spatial analysis of plastic waste generation and waste management practices, identifying likely hot spots of plastic flows and accumulation. The analysis also assessed likely changes in plastic pollution associated with changes in rainfall through the year, indicating peak flows of waste plastics in June to December following monsoon and major rainfall events.

These figures illustrate how the SPOT model provided visualisations of  plastics pollution in Kerala, including waste generation, levels of open burning of plastics and hotspots of plastics pollution.

Scenario modelling to assess potential policy and investment interventions

Building on the baseline analysis provided by the SPOT model analysis, the team assessed the potential impact of a range of two main policy intervention and investment scenarios over a ten year period up top 2030:

  1. A focused intervention approach based on improving waste collection services and infrastructure.
  2. A paradigm shift towards a circular economy for plastics, focusing on ambitious policy interventions to reduce plastics at source, alongside infrastructure development for waste and resource recovery.

These scenarios were compared with a future projection of the business-as-usual case to explore how different policies and investments could tackle the significant problem of plastics pollution.

The team also used the model to assess capex and opex costs for each scenario and conducted an assessment of the possible changes in the associated economic externalities over time, including health impacts associated with open burning of plastics, greenhouse gas emissions and impacts on the marine environment.

Modelling showed how different types of intervention could dramatically reduce levels of plastics pollution at a state level.

Providing evidence to secure investment

The project provided a key part of the evidence base that helped the World Bank design an investment of USD 105 million to dramatically improve waste collection and treatment infrastructure in Kerala.