Responsibility, engagement, and policy strategy for ocean plastic waste management: a Q-method study of stakeholder perspectives

Abigail Heath, Matthew Cotton

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Abstract

Ocean plastic waste is an urgent environmental crisis, subject to growing media and policy scrutiny. We use Q-methodology to assess stakeholder perspectives on management practices, finding four emergent discourses concerning: environmental citizenship, global policy responsibility, health prioritisation and economic incentivisation. We find stakeholder consensus on the impacts, levels of media coverage and need for action – creating a ‘policy window’ for strong environmental governance. Yet there remains disparity over who should lead pro-environmental action, and whether consumer behaviour will genuinely change over time. Visual communication emerges as a popular tool to build social capacity for change. It behoves policymakers to learn from other visual behaviour change initiatives, such as those on cigarette packaging, to stimulate long-term public engagement. By combining visual communication with taxes and levies to alter demand-side management for single use plastic products, we suggest that longer-term sustainable behaviour change can be achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2412-2435
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Volume65
Issue number13
Early online date8 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2022

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© 2022 Newcastle University.

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