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Towards a Sustainable Future? The EU Policies Concerning Plastics and Their Didactical Potential for Primary and Secondary Teaching

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Plastic, plastic waste and marine litter indisputably is one of the key environmental issues of the 21st century. The already existing amount of accumulated marine litter, the high quantity of plastic waste escaping from waste management streams every year in combination with the low recycling rates for plastic and the missing awareness of the consumer for sustainable consumption pose a permanent threat to the ecosystem, biodiversity and human health. What is more, as economic and ecological interests strongly deviate from each other, the transformation of this status quo towards a more sustainable future will take place very slowly. Against this background, this paper will shortly outline the multitude of problems connected to plastic products throughout a productís lifecycle and introduce the idea of a circular economy. On this basis, the paper will critically analyze the strategy papers and the ongoing legislation of the EU introduced to solve these problems and to realize the transformation process of the EU-economy towards a circular economy from a sustainable development point of view. On the one hand, awareness raising is one main strategy of the EU to achieve this transformation, on the other hand, educational institutions are not specifically mentioned by the EU. In order to address this shortcoming, the paper will constitute the teaching principle global development politics / education for sustainable development as one measure to increase consumersí awareness and sustainable consumption. In general, this paper will proof that the topical area plastics can fruitfully be implemented at German schools for primary and secondary education in order to strengthen the education for sustainable development.

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Social Sciences, Education, other