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Plastics and the coronavirus pandemic: a behavioral science perspective

Fadi Makki (), Anna Lamb () and Rouba Moukaddem
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Fadi Makki: B4Development
Anna Lamb: B4Development
Rouba Moukaddem: Nudge Lebanon

Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, 2021, vol. 20, issue 2, No 7, 209-213

Abstract: Abstract With the coronavirus outbreak, new and strengthened norms of plastic dependency emerged in the Middle East and North Africa region through the desperate demand for products like face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), highlighting the tradeoffs between health and the environment. While the rise in demand has been considered as temporary, behavioral barriers and misperceptions might make these norms particularly sticky and hinder society’s ability to transition to a circular economy. Fortunately, behavioral science offers valuable insights about why the current pandemic can actually be a catalyst to create new eco-conscious behaviors. As some behaviors are often strenuous to change and require enforcement through traditional policy solutions (e.g. regulations), behavioral science offers complementary tools that will make policies more effective. We have an opportunity to start thinking about ways to leverage behavioral insights to create new norms that promote a circular economy while ultimately ensuring proper adherence to hygiene practices to curb the spread of the virus.

Keywords: COVID-19; Single-use plastics; Social norms; Middle East & North Africa; Circular economy; Pro-environmental behaviors; Nudges; Messenger effect; Defaults; Salience; Behavioral science (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s11299-020-00258-w

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