Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
August 2023

2023 Annual Trends in Plastics Policy: A Brief

2023 Annual Trends in Plastics Policy: A Brief cover

In the first annual update of Annual Trends in Plastics Policy, Nicholas Institute researchers find that plastics policy enactment continues to surge and was not negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, researchers found more than 300 additional policies to index in the Plastics Policy Inventory, upon which this report is based, for a total of 894 policies. The 2022 update to the inventory increased the total by more than 50%.

However, gaps in scope and implementation remain. Though more policies address additional types of single-use plastics, most still target only plastic bags. Microplastics and marine sources remain relatively unaddressed, and economic instruments are a minority of policy instruments used.

To better gauge policy implementation, researchers established a new effectiveness policy library to accompany the 2022 update. These studies indicate that, while underused in existing policy, greater governmental use of economic instruments (e.g., taxes, fees, levies) and information instruments (e.g., awareness campaigns to communicate other instruments to the public, education initiatives, etc.) would aid in enacting effective policies in the future.