Stakeholder analysis with regard to a recent European restriction proposal on microplastics

Lauge Peter Westergaard Clausen*, Oliver Foss Hessner Hansen, Nikoline Bang Oturai, Kristian Syberg, Steffen Foss Hansen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Stakeholder involvement is pivotal EU governance. In this paper, we complete a stakeholder analysis of the European Chemicals Agency's recent Annex XV restriction proposal process on intentionally added microplastics. The aim of this study is to map the interests, influence and importance of active stakeholders in order to understand the arguments being put forward by different stakeholders and provide recommendations to policy-makers on how to ensure a balanced consideration of all stakeholder perspectives. Stakeholders were identified through niche media analysis and by scrutinising comments from the public consultation on the restriction proposal. Their importance and influence were mapped using three approaches: "scale from low to high", "psychometric scale" and "qualitative ranking". We identified 205 different stakeholders out of which 77 were industry and trade associations, 25 were large companies and only four were small and medium-sized enterprises. National authorities and researchers did not comment on the restriction proposal, whilst large companies were very active providing comments. Industry trade associations and sports-related non-governmental organizations articulated anxiety about the costs associated with the implementation of the restriction proposal. Among environmental non-governmental organizations, there was consensus that plastics should be handled like other substances under EU's chemical regulation. Primary stakeholders identified exhibited high importance, but varying degrees of influence, while the opposite applied to the major European institutions. Based on our analysis, we recommend that: The European Chemicals Agency implement measures to include "silent" stakeholders and invite guest experts to participate in their committees on Risk Assessment and Socio-Economic Analysis; Researchers should be more active in the public consultation; and that special emphasis should be put on helping small and medium-sized enterprises. With regards to stakeholder consultation, we find that media analysis is a good supplement to stakeholder analysis and that a more objective top-down measure of stakeholder importance and influence is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0235062
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume15
Issue number6
ISSN1932-6203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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