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Plastics

Plastics

Plastics in the environment have become a global problem. To solve it, different actors such as product designers, producers, converters, retailers, consumers, recyclers, and disposal companies throughout the value chain need to work together. This calls for interdisciplinary research. Ecologic Institute is exploring various aspects of this issue, such as freshwater and marine environments, soil, recycling, water management, legal requirements, and the regulation of macro- and microplastics. Our team members have expertise on international and European plastics regulation as well as various related policy fields, such as ecotoxicology, microplastics analytics, water treatment, and recycling issues. This allows them to analyze which regulations are still missing and to provide recommendations with a view to strengthening the patchy regulatory framework for the production, use, and disposal of plastics. Ecologic Institute is also represented in fora  such as the German roundtable on marine litter. Furthermore, it strengthens civic engagement via citizen science projects which involve members of the public in research.

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Doris Knoblauch
Coordinator Plastics
Coordinator Urban & Spatial Governance
Senior Fellow

Related Topics

Resource Conservation + Circular Economy

Plastics

Bioeconomy

Ariel Araujo
Researcher

Environmental Law – Ecologic Legal

Land Use

Climate

Plastics

Arctic

Trade

Governance

Cities

Plastics

International Development

Nature-based Solutions and Green Infrastructure

Climate

Evaluation

Indicators

Education

Governance

Doris Knoblauch
Coordinator Plastics
Coordinator Urban & Spatial Governance
Senior Fellow

Resource Conservation + Circular Economy

Cities

Education

Plastics

Susanne Langsdorf
Coordinator Resource Conservation & Circular Economy
Senior Fellow

Cities

Nature-based Solutions and Green Infrastructure

Climate

Education

Plastics

Resource Conservation + Circular Economy

Linda Mederake
Researcher

Environmental Law – Ecologic Legal

Energy

Climate

Digitalization

Education

Plastics

Dr. Stephan Sina
Senior Fellow
Coordinating In-house Counsel

Water

Adaptation

Evaluation

Digitalization

Education

Plastics

Indicators

Governance

Dr. Ulf Stein
Coordinator Water Studies
Senior Fellow

Climate

Plastics

Land Use

Environmental Law – Ecologic Legal

International Development

Governance

Dr. Heidi Stockhaus
Coordinator International Development
Senior Fellow
Selected Projects for Plastics
 
| Fotolia © Christian Schulz
In the framework of the scientific accompanying research (PlastikNet) of the research focus "Plastics in the Environment – Sources • Sinks • Solutions" (Plastik in der Umwelt – Quellen • Senken • Lösungsansätze) Ecologic Institute coordinates 20 joint research projects,... Read more
 

© PhotoDreamWorldArt | pixabay.com

No other plastic usage represents the problem of plastic pollution as much as single-use plastics (SUPs) do. They are the most common type of plastics produced, and, at the same time, the most littered in the environment. SUP consumption is booming worldwide, with Asia... Read more

Asia's Opportunity to End Single-use Plastic Pollution

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Plastic Litter at Koh Ta Kiev, Cambodia

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CC0

At the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), planned for the end of February 2022, one or more Resolutions will be tabled calling for the creation of an International Negotiating Committee to discuss content of a potential Global Plastics Agreement. Discussions of... Read more
 

Richard Whitcombe | Fotolia.com

Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues. Calls for a global treaty to tackle plastic pollution have increased over the last years, discussions will continue at the next sessions of the UN Environment Assembly in February 2022. After... Read more
 

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an environmental policy instrument, which places the responsibility for managing the product’s end-of-life on the producer. Producers pay EPR fees based on quantities of packaging or products (e.g. electric and electronic... Read more
 
© Billion Photos|Shutterstock.com
Ecologic Institute is providing scientific support to the non-fiction youth book Plastik, Müll und Ich being written by children and youth author Gesine Grotrian. The book is aimed at answering the questions that young people have about plastics. It is published by... Read more
 
Marko Sarenac | Stock.adobe.com
Combating plastic litter on land and in water is one of the major challenges of global environmental protection. As part of its plastics strategy, the EU will adopt a directive to restrict the use of several disposable plastic products and fishing gear. On behalf of the... Read more

The EU Directive on Disposable Plastics and Fishing Gear

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Funding
 
Ecologic Institute participates in a Framework Contract for Europeaid (2018-2020) for "Sustainable management of Natural Resources and Resilience" in the implementation of external aid. The aim of the Framework Contract is to support and advise European Commission... Read more

Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in EU International Development Aid

Duration
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Funding
 
| © whitecomberd | Fotolia.com
Plastic pollution of the world's oceans is a quickly growing environmental problem. A number of international instruments and treaties are trying to address the problem, but the growing amount of plastic waste that is polluting our seas shows these are insufficient. On... Read more
 
| Fotolia © Alexandre Dudouble
The research project's objective is to provide a legal and political science perspective to the Federal Government's efforts to anchor the protection of resources more strongly at the international level. The project analyses how public international law and other... Read more
All projects on Plastics
Selected Publications for Plastics

Plastics regulation

 
Report Cover "Global Rules in a New Global Treaty"

© WWF Philippines

In March 2022, at the resumed fifth meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly, UN Member States adopted the historic decision to start negotiating a global treaty to combat plastic pollution. As national delegations and relevant stakeholders in Asia start... Read more

Mederake, Linda; Knoblauch, Doris (2022): Global rules in a new global treaty: Asia's opportunity to end single-use plastic pollution. Published in July 2022 by WWF Philippines.

 
screenshot first page
© 2022 Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft
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Preparations are currently underway for negotiations on a global plastics treaty. The treaty is intended to respond to the increasing plastic pollution, especially of the oceans, which requires international cooperation along the value chain and thus binding rules at... Read more

Stockhaus, Heidi 2022: Verhandlungen zu einem globalen Plastikabkommen – Zeit Verantwortung zu übernehmen. Zeitschrift für Umweltrecht (ZUR), 2022, No. 7-8, 385-386.

 
Cover of the final report "EU Single-Use Plastics Directive - analysis of provisions and potential measures regarding extended producer responsibility"

© German Environment Agency

Combating plastic litter on land and in water is one of the major challenges of global environmental protection. As part of its plastics strategy, the EU adopted Directive (EU) 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (SUP... Read more

Altvater, Susanne, Stephan Sina, Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers et al. 2022: EU Single-Use Plastics Directive – analysis of provisions and potential measures regarding extended producer responsibility. Final Report. Climate Change 42/2022. Federal Environment Agency: Dessau-Roßlau.

 
Report cover with image of fish, title, and logos of participating institutions

© WWF

This research report studies the Asian perspectives on a global plastic pollution treaty against the background of a growing momentum for the establishment of a negotiation process during the second part of the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in... Read more

Stockhaus, H; Sachdeva, A; Sina, S; Bolopion, E; Mislang, G; Espenilla, J; Guiao, C.T.; Sulistiawati, L.Y.; Popattanachai, N. 2021. A New Treaty on Plastic Pollution – Perspectives from Asia. Published in October 2021 by WWF-World Wide Fund For Nature (Singapore) Limited (WWF-Singapore).

 
graphic government policies combatting plastic pollution

© Ecologic Institute

In this review, Ecologic Institute's Doris Knoblauch and Linda Mederake analyse the subject focus of 45 articles (published 2019–2021), dealing with government action to regulate plastic pollution. Policies described in the articles and introduced between 2016 and 2021... Read more

Knoblauch, D.; Mederake, L. (2021): Government policies combatting plastic pollution, Current Opinion in Toxicology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cotox.2021.10.003.

 
This article (written in German) examines various policies and approaches that are currently being implemented or planned as solutions to the plastics crisis. It becomes clear that in national and international policies plastics are mainly described as a problem of... Read more

Mederake, L., Araujo Sosa, A. und Hirschnitz-Garbers, M. (2020): Mehr Kohärenz bitte! Plastikpolitik in Deutschland, Europa und weltweit. Politische Ökologie, Band 161, 76-82.

 
The discussion paper presents the rationale for a new treaty on tackling plastic waste and highlights its possible added value. The objective would be to reduce marine plastic litter through a comprehensive approach that also includes land-based sources, a life cycle... Read more

Bodle, Ralph; Sina, Stephan (2019), "A treaty on plastic waste. Discussion paper for the international round-table on Tackling global plastic pollution – Ways towards an international convention", Ecologic Institute, Berlin.

 
Cover Plastic Atlas 2019

Heinrich Boell Foundation

There are numerous regulatory approaches at international, regional and national level regarding the handling of plastic products and plastic waste. What they all have in common is their limited effectiveness. In their contribution, Linda Mederake, Stephan Gürtler and... Read more

Mederake, Linda; Gürtler, Stephan; Knoblauch, Doris (2019): Regulation: Solutions at the Wrong End. In: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung und BUND – Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (Eds.): Plastic Atlas 2019. Facts and figures about the world of synthetic polymers. Berlin.

 
Anzahl von Pro-Argumenten für die Plastikregulierung nach Sub-Kategorien
This article by Ecologic Institute's Linda Mederake and Doris Knoblauch 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... Read more

Mederake, Linda; Knoblauch, Doris (2019): Shaping EU Plastic Policies: The Role of Public Health vs. Environmental Arguments. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2019, 16, 3928.

 
Marine plastic pollution is a fast growing problem and it is not yet possible to estimate how severe the impacts currently are. Between 4.8 and 12.7 Mt of plastics ends up in the ocean each year, adding to the uncontrolled plastic waste already floating around the world... Read more

Simon, Nils et al. (2018): No More Plastics in the Ocean. Gaps in Global Plastic Governance and Options for a Legally Binding Agreement to Eliminate Marine Plastic Pollution. Draft report for WWF to support discussions at the Ad Hoc Open-ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics. Berlin: adelphi.

Publications within the BMBF Research Focus Plastics in the Environment

 
Cover Key Messages

© Ecologic Institute

The publication summarizes the key messages from all 20 joint research projects and the seven cross-cutting topics of the research focus. Structured along the following ten main topics, the central results are presented in order to derive recommendations for various... Read more

Hinzmann, Mandy; Knoblauch, Doris; Mederake, Linda; Schritt, Hannes; Stein, Ulf (eds.) (2022): Kernbotschaften zum Forschungsschwerpunkt "Plastik in der Umwelt".

 
Cover of the publication "Key Messages of the BMBF-Research Focus "Plastics in the Environment – Sources· Sinks · Solutions". Short version"

© Ecologic Institute

This brochure is the short version of the publication Key Messages of the BMBF Research Focus "Plastics in the Environment". It summarizes the most important key messages from all 20 joint research projects and the seven cross-cutting topics of the research focus. The... Read more

Research focus "Plastics in the Environment" (2022): Key messages of the BMBF research focus "Plastics in the Environment". Short version.

 
Cover "Compendium on Plastics in the Environment

© Ecologic Institute

This compendium, published by Ecologic Institute, aims to sharpen relevant terms and thereby aims to contribute to the heterogeneity of the scientific community on "plastics in the environment". In addition, the brochure is intended to help ensure that communication... Read more

J. Bertling*, C. G. Bannick, L. Barkmann, U. Braun, D. Knoblauch, C. Kraas, L. Mederake, F. Nosić, B. Philipp, M. Rabe, I. Sartorius, H. Schritt, U. Stein, K. Wencki, K. Wendt-Potthoff, J. Woidasky (2022): Compendium on Plastics in the Environment, 1st edition 2022. https://doi.org/10.24406/umsicht-n-647637

*Corresponding author

The emission of plastics into the environment is growing worldwide. Since existing regulations are not sufficient to curb the problem, the ever-increasing plastic production and use must be reduced overall. A systemic approach is needed that holds all actors responsible... Read more

Beyerl, Katharina; Bogner, Franz; Daskalakis, Maria; Decker, Thomas; Hentschel, Anja; Hinzmann, Mandy; Loges, Bastian; Knoblauch, Doris; Mederake, Linda; Müller,, Ruth; Rubik, Frieder; Schweiger, Stefan; Stieß, Immanuel (2022): Wege zum nachhaltigen Umgang mit Kunststoffen: Kernbotschaften sozialwissenschaftlicher Forschung. GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 31(1), 51-53.

 
Graphical illustration of potential impacts of microplastics in the environment.

Are microplastics harmful? The ecotoxicological assessment of microplastics in the environment is a complex task

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© Ecologic Institute 2022, CC-BY 4.0

Whether or not microplastics have harmful effects on plants and animals has not yet been conclusively established. The different properties of microplastics determine whether and how the microplastics are absorbed by living organisms and whether they are harmful to them... Read more

Ecologic Institute (2022): Plastics in the Environment. Are microplastics harmful? Infographic CC-BY 4.0. Online: https://bmbf-plastik.de/en/publication/are-microplastics-harmful

 

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In the framework of the scientific accompanying research (PlastikNet) of the research focus "Plastics in the Environment – Sources • Sinks • Solutions" (Plastik in der Umwelt – Quellen • Senken • Lösungsansätze) Ecologic Institute coordinates 20 joint research projects,... Read more

Fact sheet series of the BMBF research focus "Plastics in the Environment – Sources • Sinks • Solutions", 2021-2022.

 
Cover conference proceedings Plastik in der Umwelt

© Ecologic Institute

Plastic pollution in the environment is a global problem with unforeseeable ecological consequences. Despite numerous activities and approaches, there are only a few reliable findings on the input and distribution pathways and the effects on humans and animals. In order... Read more

Ecologic Institute (ed.) 2021: BMBF-Forschungsschwerpunkt Plastik in der Umwelt – Quellen • Senken • Lösungsansätze. Abschlusskonferenz des Forschungsschwerpunkts "Plastik in der Umwelt" am 20./21. April 2021. Berlin: Ecologic Institute.

 
First page of report with title

Ecologic Institute

This status report was prepared within the framework of the cross-cutting issue 1 "Analytics and reference materials" of the research focus Plastics in the Environment. It summarizes the contents of the project discussions and coordination within the cross-cutting issue... Read more

Braun, Ulrike & Stein, Ulf & Schritt, Hannes & Altmann, Korinna & Bannick, Claus Gerhard & Becker, Roland & Bitter, Hajo & Bochow, Mathias & Dierkes, Georg & Enders, Kristina et al. (2021): Analysis of Microplastics. Sampling, Preparation and Detection Methods. Status Report within the framework program Plastics in the Environment.

 
Projektwebsite: Plastik in der Umwelt
The Ecologic Institute designed and developed the bilingual project website "Plastic in the Environment". It contains an interactive map, which gives an overview of all funded projects. Furthermore the website provides detailed information on the projects and related... Read more

Ecologic Institut (2018): Plastic in the Environment. URL: www.bmbf-plastik.de/en

All publications on Plastics
Selected Events for Plastics
 
Theme day: Plastics in the environment

Ecologic Institute

Can microplastics get into the water, when I wash a fleece jacket made of polyester? How many climate-damaging greenhouse gases are emitted by the production of plastic? What is chemical recycling? Together with numerous researchers from all over Germany, we got to the... Read more

Conference:Theme Day: Plastic in the Environment

Date
Location
Berlin, Germany
 

© BMBF

Plastic in the environment is a topic of immense significance, which has only grown in relevance since the Coronavirus pandemic. Water pollution (oceans, rivers, lakes, ground water) and plastic/microplastics in the environment are among the top environmental... Read more

Conference:Plastic in the Environment – Final Conference of the BMBF Research Programme

Date
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Location
online

Microplastics

Citizen Science

 
Ever tried oysters from a natural heritage site, or discussed plastics pollution of the oceans while sipping seaweed cocktails? Participants at the second Science Sips event got to experience exactly that on 28 April 2017 while sitting across the impressive dinosaur... Read more
All events on Plastics
Selected Presentations for Plastics
 
On 2 July 2020, Dr. Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers and Dr. Stephan Sina from Ecologic Institute, together with Susanne Altvater from s.Pro, gave a keynote presentation "Reflections on extended producer responsibility under the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive" at the... Read more
 
On 2 December 2019, Doris Knoblauch and Dr. Stephan Sina, Senior Fellows at Ecologic Institute, held a presentation on "Tackling Plastic Pollution – Introduction to Global Plastic Pollution and the Discussions at the International Level" for 21 experts... Read more
 
On 29 May 2019, Doris Knoblauch and Linda Mederake, both scientific researchers at Ecologic Institute, were guest "professors" at the Nürti Üni, the schoolchildren's university of the Nürtingen Primary School in Berlin-Kreuzberg. They held a lecture on "Plastics Crisis ... Read more
 

Präsentation Plastikpiraten

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© Plastikpiraten

At the dialogue event "The River, the Waste and Me" by the Berlin initiative "Alles im Fluss" in cooperation with "Stadtgespräch Wasser bewegt Berlin" on water pollution control and waste on the banks, Linda Mederake, scientific researcher at Ecologic Institute,... Read more
 
Präsentation "Towards a Global Plastics Convention"
At Scotland's International Marine Conference 2019, Ecologic Institute's Linda Mederake presented results from the study "No more Plastics in the Ocean – Gaps in Global Plastic Governance and Options for a Legally Binding Agreement to Eliminate Marine Plastic Pollution"... Read more

Lecture:Towards a Global Plastics Convention

Date
Location
Glasgow, United Kingdom
All presentations on Plastics