chapter  3
14 Pages

The politics of marine plastics pollution

WithPatrick Schröder, Victoria Chillcott

This chapter tries to highlight the complex politics behind the urgent issue of marine plastics pollution. Understanding the political economy of global and local plastic value chains and questions about sources of plastic waste will be crucial to solve marine plastics pollution. The chapter looks at the domestic political dynamics of the UK which have led to the creation of the 25-Year Environment Plan in early 2018, and the political economy of global trade in plastics waste, the most prominent example being China’s ban on importing ‘foreign garbage’ from the West. The chapter also tries to unpack issues around consumer politics, recently announced corporate ‘zero plastic waste’ initiatives, and ongoing lobbying against hard policies and bans of single-use plastic products. Two main factors have been crucial in preventing any meaningful action to tackle plastic pollution to date: First, a lack of political will and limited inter-governmental coordination; second, corporate lobbying power of Big Plastic and major brands. To achieve stopping the leakage of plastics into oceans, transformative alliances consisting of progressive multiple stakeholder groups including civil society, scientists and media will play a key role.