Plastic pollution has become a major global risk. The European Union (EU) obligates all member states to implement measures according to the waste management hierarchy, with the highest priority given to waste prevention and reuse. Currently, several policies tackle the plastic crisis, while effective measures for prevention are hardly introduced. Moreover, approaches are rarely tailored to individual consumers’ needs for reducing plastic waste. This paper is the first to collect and structure stakeholder knowledge on measures that enable consumers to use plastic more sustainably and, in particular, to prevent the generation of new plastic waste. The present study explores perspectives of 28 selected German stakeholders from the political, economic, civil and scientific sector. Written expert interviews with open questions captured stakeholders’ perceptions of the plastic problem and their approaches to enabling consumers to reduce plastic packaging for food and beverages. Results showed that the interviewed stakeholders did not point out consumers as the most important agents for change, but considered all societal agents responsible for implementing a wide range of consumer-enabling measures. The analysis revealed six groups of suggested measures, the most predominant ones being (1) the creation of alternatives for consumers and (2) political measures. Further suggested measures were (3) communication and awareness raising, (4) change in consumer behavior, (5) technical innovation and development, and (6) networking with other stakeholders. Based on our empirical results, we derived nine recommendations for action on three levels of the waste management hierarchy: prevention, recycling and disposal.
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- Publication Type
- Academic Articles
Steinhorst, J., & Beyerl, K. (2021). First reduce and reuse, then recycle! Enabling consumers to tackle the plastic crisis – Qualitative expert interviews in Germany. Journal of cleaner production, 313: 127782. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.127782.
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- Projects involved
- Plastic: Social Perception and Behaviour Patterns