Panel 8

Where Sunstainable Plastic-transitions are going? Historical, Political and Social Lifes of plastic consumption and waste

Organizers: François Dedieu (1); stephanie Barral (1); Sebastien Dalgalarrondo (2); Tristan Fournier (2); Céline Pessis (3); Baptiste Monsaingeon (4); Laurent Pordier (2); Benjamin Raimbault (5)

1: Inrae, France; 2: Cnrs, France; 3: AgroParitech, france; 4: University of Reims-Champagne Ardenne, france; 5: ESIEE, france

Topics: Ecological transitions and climate justice; Heritage industry and the production of collective memory; Innovation imaginaries, practices and policies

Keywords: "transition"plastic"governance"

After the discovery in 1997 of the 7th continent of plastic in the oceans, a broad political consensus to reduce plastic consumption arose. Despite recent European and national regulations on plastic ban and recycle obligation, global plastic waste production continues to increase. Why does transition toward plastic waste reduction appear so hard to implement? So far, STS scholars have mainly studied how plastic waste become politicized. By considering waste material as a problem and a participant, “political material” process (Hawkins 2013) explains how waste politics takes different forms: mundane or controversial. Yet this perspective tends to focus only on the form of plastic policies and obscures the concrete effects of regulations on plastic waste reduction. The proposed panel seeks interdisciplinary papers able to grasp the deep historical, social, cultural and economic factors explaining why plastic sustainable transitions take different pathway: completed, halfway, or the status quo (Smith, Vos & Grin, 2010). In particular, the panel expects contributions in three (but no exclusive) researches directions. First, STS approaches studying the interplay of plastics technologies and social practices (Gabrys and alii, 2013, Evans and alii, 2020 notably) to highlight the conception and the (non) impacts of ecological regulations. In particular, how does plastic materiality (transparence and plasticity particulary) shape public regulations of plastic pollution, consumers habits, social imaginaries and social movements? Also, how do social networks and digital technologies shape these social practices? Second, contributions describing historical hegemony of plastics. Why and how did plastics become dominant technologies in different sectors (construction, food…)? Third, political economy approaches aim to understand how the relationships between private and public interests impact transitons pathways. Can private actors shape regulatory standards to make them less stringent? Does plastic industry brake sustainable transitions or favor plastic-alternative innovation? Do petro-chemical industries take advantage of non-restrictive regulations such as recycling obligations to subtly continue to produce polluting plastics?