Duration 01.10.2019 - 30.09.2022

(Re)assembling single-use plastics on different scales: In the EU, Greece and the Municipality of Sikinos


Researcher: Artemis Papadaki Anastasopoulou

SupervisorUlrike Felt

Funding: Uni:docs fellowship / Marietta Blau-Stipendium

Project Discription

Plastics were manufactured at the rise of the 20th century and were a catalyst for industrial innovation. They can be moulded into any shape, and they are very durable; they were ‘wonder stuff’. Their production grew rapidly. Together with the large production of plastics, environmental concerns about the impact of plastic waste in the environment were voiced. Plastic waste were accumulating where they did not belong. They are now found in oceans, lakes, rivers and soil. Because of the multiple concerns that plastic waste brings, in the last years there is the growing need to tame plastics, to regulate them.

This project is looking at the regulation of plastics in the European Union (EU) through the recent Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive. It also looks at the implementation of this directive in the Member State of Greece and an insular municipality. Regulating plastics might seem easy, however plastics open up many different issues through their challenging materiality. They complicate easy solutions. They are an environmental concern, but also an industrial material playing a key role in the EU economy. In this project I am interested in understanding how plastics get assembled as policy objects in EU regulation. How they are problematised through their materiality and what that means when a directive is implemented in different scales and contexts.

This project uses tools from Science and Technology Studies to unpack the importance of the materiality of plastics in the regulatory processes of the EU and it uses tools from the field of Interpretative Policy Analysis and Critical Policy Studies in order to understand meaning and the new realities created through the regulation of plastics. It takes a qualitative methodological approach using expert interviews, document analysis and participants observation. The overall aim of the project is to better understand the role of plastics in contemporary societies in their multiple forms and challenges. This project is in close collaboration with the PLENTY platform on Plastics in the Environment and Society.


Conference presentations & workshops

  • 4S/EASST Conference 2020: Assembling ‘plastic policy objects’ in EU regulatory spaces, presented by Artemis Papadaki-Anastasopoulou
  • Association of Social Anthropologists Conference 2021: A better alternative? Justifying the rise and fall of oxo degradable plastics, presented by Artemis Papadaki-Anastasopoulou