WP1: Regulation and societal actions on plastic pollution

This work package aims to investigate and promote societal change in regard to minimize plastic pollution, with specific focus on the role of science and importance of stakeholders

Leader: DTU



The scope of this work package is to analyze how science has guided regulatory development in the past decade and to provide insight and recommendations on how science can help society with the needed transition towards a more sustainable use of plastic in the future. This implies generating an overview of serious gaps when it comes to plastic pollution followed by recommendations on what role science should play in future development of policy measures.

Several policy proposals and regional action plans have been put forward that call for better use of science, the application of environmental principles as well as stakeholder involvement. The best utilization of science requires a better understanding from policy makers of what science is most relevant as well as an understanding among scientist of the needs from policy makers.

The aim of work package at generating an overview and make it easily accessible to interested stakeholders from academia, industry, government, NGOs and private citizens, based on a highly interdisciplinary approach drawing upon disciplines from natural and social science.



WP 1 provides a link between the science produced in WP2-5 and the societal needs to address marine plastic pollution. WP1 will thus provide insight of policy needs to the four other WPs and actively used the scientific findings of WP2-5 to help shape future regulatory measures.


How can the generation of scientific knowledge be designed to strengthen regulatory efforts to reduce plastic pollution?

Regulation of plastic pollution focuses on one of three approaches:

Reducing land- and sea-based sources of marine litter based on environmental monitoring and assessment programs within the frameworks of environmental protection legislation;

Up-stream regulation of individual polymer/chemical/particle types

Production oriented regulations such as those supporting waste handling in a circular economy perspective.

However, the way scientific knowledge is currently generated is not always designed to facilitate development within these regulatory regimes and too many regulatory questions are left scientifically unanswered. An analysis of which kinds of scientific information are needed to meet current regulatory requirements on plastic pollution at EU level (e.g. EU Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and REACH) as well as under the regional sea conventions OSPAR and HELCOM will be conducted. This analysis will be complemented with an analysis of whether the knowledge base that current regulations rely on is the most relevant information or whether policy makers and stakeholders should be better informed about scientific state of the art. These two analyses will help steer the work and data generated in WPs 2-5


How can regulation be designed to strengthen efforts to reduce plastic pollution and spark innovation?

It is well-known that well-designed regulation can spark innovation within industry as well as regulatory agencies, but it has yet to be establishment how innovative regulations are to be designed and implemented in general and with regards to plastic, in specific. Danish and European regulatory gaps will be investigated and an online database of regulatory efforts and citizen science (CS) projects (including Danish ones) to mitigate plastic pollution will be developed, evaluated and made publicly accessible. The initiatives described in the database will be compared to current political aims such as those presented in the forthcoming Danish action plan on plastics as well as European initiatives on circular economy. Taking into consideration the findings of WPs 2-5 and the literature on regulation and innovation, we will investigate how society can improve regulation of plastic pollution, including discussion of the recently proposed environmental principle termed the “necessity principle”. The overall viability of the identified regulatory policy options will be discussed with regulatory agencies and key stakeholders in Denmark and EU through stakeholder analysis and mapping of the criteria that various stakeholders use to assess the feasibility of the identified regulatory options.

MarinePlastic - The Danish center for research in marine plastic pollution

The project is supported by

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