ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research

Project name:
PlastX – Researching Plastics in the Environment from a Social-Ecological Perspective

Project description:
Plastics are an ambivalent material. Due to their versatile properties, plastics are by now used in all areas of economy and everyday life. Their durability, however, also causes an accumulation in the environment. Mismanaged plastics enter rivers and oceans, where they degrade into microplastics and are taken up by aquatic organisms. Impacts on ecosystems and humans are not well understood. Due to the complexity and globality of the phenomenon, the research group “PlastX” conceives plastics as a systemic risk for social-ecological supply systems.

The management of systemic risks such as plastics requires new forms of cooperation between actors in science, politics and civil society. Therefore, PlastX has an inter- and transdisciplinary research approach. The research comprises the societal role of plastics and their effects on the environment, focusing on five research fields:

  • Consumption practices regarding plastic packaging and sustainable bridging practices in the food supply chain
  • Alternatives to conventional plastics, e.g. bioplastics
  • Global regulation and local action to combat marine litter
  • Environmental risk assessment of microplastics in freshwaters
  • Systemic risk analysis of macro- and microplastics in the environment

The research group is based at the ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research with the Goethe University Frankfurt and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research as partnering institutions. PlastX is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

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