Want to combat plastic straw waste? Consider rewiring consumer psychology.

Read the full story in Waste Dive.

The global plastic backlash has elevated straws to a curious place in public discourse. While some characterize the spotlight on straws as, well, a straw man diverting attention away from more critical sources of plastic pollution, others insist on their symbolic importance in the war against plastic — single-use straws, an unnecessary extravagance for most, are in many ways emblematic of the devastating environmental consequences of unchecked consumerism.

Travis Wagner, a professor at the University of Southern Maine’s Department of Environmental Science & Policy, takes the latter stance.

“I view [increasing attention on plastic straws] as a gateway action,” he told Waste Dive in an interview. “Once someone embraces a reduction of straws, they’re more likely to embrace reduction of other materials.”

But achieving this reduction can prove tricky for policymakers — and, as Wagner establishes in a new paper on plastic straw regulation, not all approaches are created equal.


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