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Health concerns of plastics: energizing the global diffusion of anti-plastic norms

Leah Shipton and Peter Dauvergne

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 2022, vol. 65, issue 11, 2124-2144

Abstract: The idea that plastics can be harmful has been gaining strength since the 1990s. Resulting anti-plastic norms have been diffusing unevenly around the world, with different meanings, fragmented uptake, and variable policy influence. Explanations for why and where anti-plastic norms have gained traction have highlighted the power of industry, the responses of governments, the characteristics of waste management, and the role of advocacy. Researchers have yet to meaningfully explore health as a factor influencing the diffusion of anti-plastic norms. This article addresses this gap. Evidence from Bangladesh, Kenya, the Bahamas, and Canada reveals that health-based concerns have been a key factor across a diverse array of jurisdictions. These cases further demonstrate the tendency of anti-plastic norms to flow from early to later adopters only after a critical mass of local actors perceive plastic waste to be a locally significant problem. These findings can empower advocates of stricter plastics regulation.

Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2021.1957796

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