Introduction to special collection: social science and the social life of plastics

Brigitte Steger*, Patrick O'Hare, Teresa Sandra Perez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Concern around plastic pollution and China’s ban on receiving foreign waste and recyclate have refocused attention on responsible waste management and attracted interdisciplinary research that impacts policy and practice. Consequently, plastic has elevated the role of social science in the innovation space, which has traditionally been occupied by science and enterprise. This opening article marks the launch of a special collection of works, which will be published monthly, on the social life of plastic. As a preface to the forthcoming contributions, this introduction highlights the value of humanities and social science approaches to tackling plastic waste, tracing the directions that the social science of waste and plastic has taken and can take in future. Concomitantly, it helps to steer discussions and collaborations away from the restricted realm of plastic bag consumption towards a deeper engagement with socio-material processes. We thus contribute to ensuring that the current anti-plastic zeitgeist is situated in space and time, and that potential solutions benefit from a rigorous examination of the multiplicity of plastics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalWorldwide Waste: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2021


  • Post-consumer plastic
  • Consumption cultures
  • Household recycling
  • Circular economy
  • Plastic pollution
  • Qualitative research
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Environmental politics
  • Waste policy
  • Global social problems
  • People-centred solutions


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