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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Oct 16;16(20). pii: E3928. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16203928.

Shaping EU Plastic Policies: The Role of Public Health vs. Environmental Arguments.

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Ecologic Institute, 10717 Berlin, Germany.
Ecologic Institute, 10717 Berlin, Germany.


Few other environmental problems have received as much public attention and criticism in recent years as plastic pollution. Accordingly, in recent years, a number of plastic policies have been adopted at the national and supranational level in the EU and worldwide. In the U.S., health risks were repeatedly raised in the decision-making process of these policies and scholars have pointed out the crucial role of these arguments for the adoption of plastic policies. Hence, this article uses a structuring qualitative content analysis to investigate the parliamentary debates of two recently adopted plastic policies in the EU-namely the EU Plastics Strategy and the Single-Use Plastics Directive-and to assess the relevance of public health and environmental arguments for the EU debate. The analysis reveals broad support for plastics regulation among Members of the European Parliament, who most often use environmental arguments to corroborate their support for the policies in question. In contrast, health concerns do not seem to be crucial for the adoption of plastic policies in the EU.


EU; EU Plastics Strategy; case study research; plastic policies; plastic pollution; plastics; policy formulation; qualitative content analysis; single-use plastics

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