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Plastics – more than just garbage: BMBF-Project PlastX seeks novel degradable alternatives and social-ecological impacts of polymer packaging

PlastX explores the role of plastics in our society and their impacts on the environment. Plastics are an important material for the global economy and for our everyday life. At the same time plastics and their usage produce environmental risks. The interdisciplinary PlastX group focuses on these ambivalent relations taking a social-ecological risk perspective. We want to find out how the risks are produced and perceived by different actors and in a next step we want to open up ways on how to deal with these risks. We take up aspects of the precautionary principle when investigating on plastic consumption and plastic alternatives like bioplastics. We will also look at aspects which rather embrace the risk management of plastics in the environment like microplastics in rivers or plastic debris in the oceans.

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 (AG Wurm) as partnering institutions.


The aim of PlastX is twofold: first, to develop adequate solution options regarding plastics in the environment and, second, to strengthen inter- and transdisciplinary research on social-ecological problems. Social- and natural science methods are applied, and results are integrated in our systemic approach: Along the life cycle of plastics different research fields relating to different scientific disciplines are conducted. The MPIP develops novel biodegradable alternatives to commodity plastics and is currently studying the biodegradation profiles of several potentially degradable polymer classes.

Duration: April 2016 – March 2021

Funding: The junior research group „PlastX – Plastics as a systemic risk for social-ecological supply systems“ is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the programme „Research for sustainable development (FONA)“. In FONA, PlastX belongs to the funding priority „SÖF – Social-ecological research“ within the funding area „Junior research groups in social-ecological research“.

A cooperation of:

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