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Alternative organising against the plastic crisis

Plastics, which are made of fossil fuels, constitute 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions – a share which is expected to increase to 20% by 2050. Their biggest application is packaging, making up about 40% of plastic production. Made to be wasted, plastics end up in landfills (with plastic waste largely channelled from the global north to the global south and handled by the world’s poor) and the natural environment. Under the banner of a circular economy, states and industry have mostly focused on addressing the plastic crisis via resource efficiency, recycling and partial regulation of single-use plastics, leaving the growing plastic production to the side, and ignoring the coloniality of plastics economies.

In response, a new phenomenon has emerged – alternative organising initiatives targeting unsustainable plastic practices, such as bio-based plastic production using locally sourced waste, open-source technology designs for recycling, or packaging-free stores that prevent plastic use/waste altogether. Focusing on reduced use/waste, new materials and organising material flows differently, these initiatives present alternatives that are aimed at addressing the plastic crisis outside the mainstream industry and governance. Whilst presenting locally embedded solutions to a global problem, they are often international and interconnected phenomena. These alternatives have different organisational forms and purposes, operating within and outside market exchange, including cooperatives, social enterprises, DIY and community initiatives.

This presentation will provide an overview of how alternative initiatives address the plastic crisis, analysing their economic and organisational models, logics of scaling, as well as limits and vulnerabilities through the lens of degrowth.


Day: 2023-08-31
Start time: 17:15
Duration: 00:15
Room: ZV-8-2
Type: Paper Presentation
Theme: Alternative economies


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