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The plastic pollution crisis: constructing solutions in multilevel policy making

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 19:40 authored by Joanna VinceJoanna Vince
Marine plastic pollution is a complex problem needing urgent attention as it reaches a crisis point (Vince and Stoett 2018). Plastics have been found in the most remote parts of the world’s oceans including the Arctic and Southern Oceans and in the great depths of the Mariana Trench. Plastic bioaccumulates in filter-feeding marine delicacies such as shrimp, scallops, mussels and sea cucumbers and the impact on human health and food security is an increasing concern (Ivar do Sul and Costa 2014; Stoett and Vince 2019). It is predicted that by the year 2050 that the world’s plastic production will quadruple if current activities around plastic use continue (World Economic Forum et al. 2016). While this is a global problem that requires global solutions, 80% of the plastic found in the marine environment is sourced from the land and which is the jurisdiction of nation states and their state/provincial and local governments. Holistic, integrated, ‘whole of life cycle’ policies, and a combination of approaches that include regulatory, societal and industry involvement are essential in addressing this complex issue (Vince and Stoett 2018; Stoett and Vince 2019; Vince and Hardesty 2016; Vince and Hardesty 2018; Haward 2018; Willis et al. 2018). The response to this crisis has resulted in urgent calls for action on a global scale (Haward 2018; Raubenheimer and McIlgorm 2018). However, in multilevel governance settings on regional and national scales the responses have been varied and ad hoc. Using the European Union (EU) and Australia as case studies, this paper will analyse how the urgency of the plastic pollution crisis has shaped multilevel policy responses and how new governance problems that have emerged from these responses (Maggetti and Trein 2019) are being addressed. It will also examine the use of ‘placebo policies’ (McConnell 2018) at different levels of governance that are impacting the way other levels are able to address the crisis.



School of Social Sciences

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Ideas and Crisis Solutions Workshop

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Mebourne, Australia

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Date of Event (End Date)


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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems

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