Conflicting discourses over plastic pollution. The EC’s Plastic Strategy vs. the Greenpeace Plastic Radar’s report


In an effort to tackle the issue of plastic pollution, on January 16th, 2018, the European Commission released the first European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, a key document presenting an action plan at the EU level aimed at changing the way in which plastics are “produced, used and discarded” (EC 2018). Despite suggesting a new standard for environmental sustainability, however, no reduction in the production of plastics is proposed in the Strategy, as both the EC and European plastic producers insist on recycling as the best option to reduce pollution by plastic waste (PlasticsEurope 2018). NGOs, on the other hand, claim that reducing production is the only effective solution to the plastic crisis.

In order to raise awareness on the issue, during summer 2018, Greenpeace Italy launched the Plastic Radar initiative; the campaign invited all citizens to signal the presence of plastic waste on Italian beaches through a mobile app. In the subsequent Plastic Radar’s report (Greenpeace Italia 2018), Greenpeace openly confronted major plastic companies by presenting percentages of beach plastic waste classified per brand, with the ultimate intention of increasing pressure on producers – and not consumers.

Drawing from ecolinguistics, this paper offers a critical discourse analysis of the two documents to the purpose of observing how language features are chosen and used to build an ideological conflict encompassing economic interests, political choices, and ethical implications.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v46p259

Keywords: critical discourse analysis; ecolinguistics; environmental discourse analysis; institutional discourse; NGOs discourse.


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