The collaboration

P2O was a collaboration between practitioners and academics from across continents


Funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and under SYSTEMIQ project coordination, the University of Leeds collaborated with international experts and partner organisations, such as the University of Oxford, in an 18-month project to co-develop the P2O model. Our team provided leadership on waste and resource management aspects and conceptualising and quantifying the overall system approach. In particular we oversaw one of four working groups of international practitioners and academics that focused on gathering data and developing the underlying logic to describe how waste plastics are collected, sorted and transported between nations. Our team was able to draw upon our longstanding research on global waste benchmarking, including insights on the informal recycling sector activities, developed through projects such as SoCo and InteRa, allowing us to estimate waste picker’s contribution to global recycling efforts.

Collaborating with some of the leading marine science research centres, such as the University of Plymouth, we were able to develop the fundamental logic to describe the rate of plastic waste transfer across the land and into the water. These efforts were underpinned by geographical information system (GIS) modelling that was used to adjust the rate of plastic mass transfer according to the distance between the point of generation on land and the riverbanks and coastal waters.

Behind the scenes…



Dr Costas Velis led the University of Leeds research team:


It was such a hard work – endless iterations to simplify a super complex global system to the bare minimum variables and relationships, to source and quality assure the datasets, to bring computational effort under control. Also great fun – the pleasure of working with great minds in the most dedicated fashion. And for Ed Cook, core researcher in our team, a marathon of endurance!



Yoni Shiran, Associate at SYSTEMIQ, had the overall project coordination – and the research team’s efforts were supported by a global panel of experts:


Richard Bailey – Professor of Environmental Systems, University of Oxford

Julien Boucher – Co-founder Quantis and Shaping Environmental Action

Jill Boughton – Founder Waste2Worth Innovations

Arturo Castillo – Research Fellow, Imperial College London

Mao Da – Executive Director, Shenzhen Zero Waste

Enzo Favoino – Researcher, Scuola Agraria del Parco di Monza

Malati Gadgil – Independent Consultant, Informal sector waste

Linda Godfrey – Principal Researcher, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa

Jutta Gutberlet – Professor, University of Victoria

Edward Kosior – Managing Director, Nextek

Crispian Lao – Founding President, Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Material Sustainability

Daniela Lerario – CEO, TriCiclos Brazil

Ellie Moss – Senior Adviser, Encourage Capital

Daniella Russo – Co-founder and CEO, Think Beyond Plastics

Ussif Rashid Sumaila – Professor, University of British Columbia

Richard Thompson – Professor, University of Plymouth