eCite Digital Repository

'Windows of opportunity': exploring the relationship between social media and plastic policies during the COVID-19 Pandemic


Vince, J and Praet, E and Schofield, J and Townsend, K, 'Windows of opportunity': exploring the relationship between social media and plastic policies during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Policy Sciences, 55 pp. 737-753. ISSN 0032-2687 (2022) [Refereed Article]

PDF (Published version)

Copyright Statement

© The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License (

DOI: doi:10.1007/s11077-022-09479-x


Plastic pollution has reached a crisis point due to ineffective waste management, an over-reliance on single-use plastic items and a lack of suitable plastic alternatives. The COVID-19 Pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in the use of single-use plastics including ‘COVID waste’ in the form of items specifically intended to help stop the spread of disease. Many governments have utilised COVID-19 as a window of opportunity to reverse, postpone or remove plastic policies off agendas ostensibly in order to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 cases. In this paper, we use novel methods of social media analysis relating to three regions (USA, Mexico and Australia) to suggest that health and hygiene were not the only reasons governments utilised this window of opportunity to change plastic policies. Beyond the influence of social media on the plastics agenda, our results highlight the potential of social media as a tool to analyse public reactions to government decisions that can be influenced by industry pressure and a broader political agenda, while not necessarily following responses to consumer behaviour.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:plastic pollution, policy, windows of opportunity, social media, Australia, US, Mexico, COVID-19 pandemic
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Archaeology
Research Field:Digital archaeology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Environmental policy, legislation and standards not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Vince, J (Associate Professor Joanna Vince)
ID Code:154253
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2022-11-16
Last Modified:2023-01-13
Downloads:3 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page