New publication on single-use plastics and coffee cups

Damian Maye

Professor Damian Maye is the lead author in a new paper concerning the very topical issue of single-use plastics and reusable coffee cups. Working with former CCRI colleague James Kirwan and Gianluca Brunori from the University of Pisa, the paper discusses the issue of single-use plastics and how the notion of ‘shared responsibilities’ are being used amongst authorities and intermediaries to ‘responsibilise’ the consumer.

Speaking about the article, Damian said, “this paper comes at a time when the global issue of plastic pollution is being talked about readily in mainstream media and society as a whole. Today the topic of bottle deposit schemes is in the news in the UK, and we [co-authors, James and Gianluca] hope that this paper can contribute to the dialogue regarding the issue”.

The article has been published in Agriculture and Human Values, and the abstract can be read below:

“This paper extends arguments about the potential for reflexive governance in agri-food sustainability by linking food ethics to the notion of ‘unintended consequences’ and ‘responsibilisation’. Analysis of sustainable consumption governance shows the way authorities and intermediaries use food waste reduction projects to ‘responsibilise’ the consumer, including recent examples of shared responsibility. This paper takes this argument further by developing a ‘strategies of responsibilisation’ framework that connects relations between food system outcomes, problematisation in public discourse and strategies of responsibilisation in agri-food governance. A food and drink waste case study of strategies to introduce reusable coffee cups in UK coffee shops and food retail chains is examined to exemplify relations between problematisation and responsibilisation. We examine problematisation and responsibilisation discourses that have emerged in relation to the issue, particularly in relation to single-use plastics, together with emerging governance arrangements and their underlying rationalities. The case study shows two key things: firstly, how ethical questions about food in public discourses connect to wider environmental planetary concerns (in this case packaging in relation to the environment); and secondly, how responsibility has emergent and dynamic properties, which we term ‘cycles of responsibilisation’. The paper concludes by assessing the wider value of applying a responsibility framework to examine governance responses to increasingly complex agri-food system sustainability challenges.”

The full title and reference and DOI link for the article is:

Maye, D., Kirwan, J., Brunori, G. (2019) Ethics and responsibilisation in agri-food governance: the single-use plastics debate and strategies to introduce reusable coffee cups in UK retail chains. Agriculture and Human Values, pp1-12, DOI 10.1007/s10460-019-09922-5 

The article can also be accessed free for four weeks (until March 14th 2019)