Development of Budget Approach and LCA Impact Assessment Methodology for the Governance of Plastic in the Environment

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In order to legitimise political decisions on the plastic litter problem, it is necessary to formulate a quantitative emission target. The budget approach for plastic litter, which is to be developed within the framework of the project, serves this purpose. The research work is guided by the following questions: What amount of plastic in the environment is still acceptable? How long are plastics present in the environment until they are completely degraded? How can a global budget derived from answering these two questions be distributed fairly in a national per capita budget? The aim of the project is not to establish a budget, but to show ways of deriving it from empirically verified data and normative values in order to create a basis for future political decision-making processes.

However, consistent governance also requires that the plastic litter emissions of various products, processes and consumption practices be accounted for in terms of quantity released and downstream environmental impacts. The second part of the proposed project, in which an impact assessment methodology is to be developed in order to adequately take plastic litter into account in life cycle analyses, will serve this purpose.

Funded by:
The initiative is funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) within the research focus Plastic in the Environment which involves over 100 academic and private sector institutions, and aims to investigate the entry of plastic into the environment as well as to identify and implement solutions to the plastic problem. The “Plastic in the Environment” research focus enhances and builds on measures already begun as part of the BMBF’s larger green economy initiative “Research for Sustainable Development” (Forschung für Nachhaltige Entwicklung – FONA): a research programme on microplastics in the oceans internationally funded and coordinated by JPI OCEANS, an ongoing project on microplastics in the hydrologic cycle supported by funding for sustainable water management, and a socio-ecological research group called PlastX.

Coordinator: Steven Engler (Ruhr-University Bochum), Jürgen Bertling, Fraunhofer UMSICHT

Partner: Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT, Geographic Institute at the Ruhr-University Bochum

Funded by: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Duration: 01/2018 – 12/2020