Alternative Plastic Economies Between the Local and the Global

Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Jacob Hasselbalch*, Johannes Stripple

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


While global climate politics evolved predominantly through an intergovernmental process that was complemented with a wide range of transnational and subnational governance ‘beyond the state’, plastic politics might be described as a movement in the opposite direction, from the local to the global. This raises fundamental questions about the scalar politics of plastics, and how the direction of travel between local and global plastic initiatives can be understood.
A recent materialist turn in the field of environmental politics has seen a marked attention to everyday life as a site of activism and resistance to unsustainable flows of goods, resources, and energy. Departing from this literature, we reflect on the potential of alternative plastic economies to advance our understanding of global plastic politics. To do so, we synthesize theoretical developments across three interrelated themes of study: sustainable materialism, prefiguration, and scaling of post-growth alternative organizing. Our contributions in this article are primarily theoretical, and we aim to articulate a research agenda for sustainable materialist research on the plastic crisis that traverses the local-global divide.
By alternative plastic economies, we mean diverse and non-growth oriented forms of exchange and circulation of plastic materials. We contend that such examples of ‘living well with plastics’ are overlooked in the now emerging global politics of plastics, epitomized in the currently negotiated United Nations Treaty on Plastic Pollution. This is not surprising in itself, but we further argue that the study of alternative plastic economies opens up unexplored avenues for engaging politically with plastics while revealing certain shortcomings of mainstream plastic governance paradigms such as the circular economy.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event2023 Radboud Conference on Earth System Governance: Bridging Sciences and Societies for Sustainability Transformation - Nijmegen, Netherlands
Duration: 22 Oct 202327 Oct 2023


Conference2023 Radboud Conference on Earth System Governance
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