Peak-Plastic at a Planetary Scale: Special Issue on Designing Law and Policy Towards Managing Plastics in a Circular Economy

Birsha Ohdedar, Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex, co-edited a new publication on Designing Law and Policy Towards Managing Plastics in a Circular Economy, a special issue of the Law, Environment and Development (LEAD) Journal.

The edition was co-edited with Dr. Lovleen Bhullar, University of Edinburgh, Prof. Philippe Cullet and Dr. Feja Lesneiwska, SOAS. The publication is available open access, a full compendium or by paper.

In recent years, there has been a global focus on plastics and plastic waste as an object of concern. In a context where the world has produced as much plastic since the beginning of the twenty-first century as in the whole of the twentieth century, warning signs observed by scientists have increasingly led to demands being placed on politicians, enterprises, lawyers and policy makers to come up with initiatives that can address the crisis. It is now recognised that we have reached peak-plastic at a planetary scale.

The legal and regulatory challenges to achieve systemic transformation need to be identified, understood and reimagined to deliver outcomes that can lead to a world that minimises the use of plastics and ensures that no plastic waste ends up in the environment. The contributions in the Special Issue provide a unique global perspective to these discussions on the circular economy. They include contributions from both the Global North (UK, EU specifically) and the Global South (Morocco, Taiwan and Kenya), as well as scientific perspectives of the life-cycle assessment.

While there have been efforts to address the plastic surge in different parts of the world, there is a strong North-South dimension to plastics recently highlighted by the Chinese ban on plastic waste imports. In other parts of the Global South, the issue is not just an environmental one but also one linked to livelihoods. These perspectives remain underexplored in academic and policy literature. Accordingly, the articles in the Special Issue provide an important contribution to fill this critical gap.

The Special Issue arose from a workshop was jointly organised by SOAS, University of London, the University of Essex and the University of Surrey in June 2018.

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