Narrating Plastics Governance: Policy Narratives in the European Plastics Strategy

Ellen Palm, Jacob Hasselbalch*, Karl Holmberg, Tobias Dan Nielsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The European Union (EU) aspires to be an important global agenda-setter on how to treat and regulate the growing plastics problem. We present an analysis of the plastic policy narratives shaping European plastics governance, in particular through the European Commission’s Plastics Strategy. Our aim is to first uncover the policy narratives at play, and then examine how actors make use of those narratives through strategic construction. Based on interviews with key stakeholders and document analysis, we identify four narratives: fossil feedstock dependency, resource inefficiency, pollution, and toxicity. We find that the resource inefficiency and pollution narratives figure most prominently in European plastics governance, and that the circular economy is being advanced as a policy solution that cuts across the different narratives. However, surface agreement on the need for ‘circularity’ hides deeper-lying ideological divisions over what exactly the circular economy means and the different directions this implies for plastics governance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Politics
Number of pages21
ISSN0964-4016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 29 Apr 2021.

Keywords

  • Policy narratives
  • Plastics
  • Circular Economy
  • Narrative policy framework
  • Strategic construction
  • Europeans commission

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