Thanks to being part of the Redefining Single Use Plastics project (I guess), I was one of two UK social scientists identified by the French Government’s Ministry for Higher Education and Research to be invited, via UK’s Government Office for Science, to a scientific workshop feeding directly into a G7 policy round table on microplastic pollution.
The set up of the workshop seemed to assume that social scientists would be able to help get folk to change what they buy and how they dispose of waste to reduce plastic pollution (most microplastics in the oceans used to just be normal sized bits of plastic waste). I helped to shift discussion on to the need for action by corporations, and by the state, to reduce the amount of plastics used in production, distribution and retail. Plastic is ubiquitous. It is ubiquitous for good reasons – its cheap, light, easy to form (that is, plastic), waterproof, air tight, etc. In short, its really useful and has been the basis for all sorts of characteristics and expectations of economic activities. It will therefore take decisive action, involving legislation and regulation, to make real difference on plastic waste.