The International Alliance for Sustainable Business: a “meta-organisational” solution to the plastic crisis

Wednesday 3 March 2021, 1:00pm to 2:00pm


Online via ZOOM

Open to

Postgraduates, Staff


Registration not required - just turn up

Event Details

This research seminar is presented by Marta Ferri, an OWT PhD student and a member of the Pentland Centre and the Centre for Future Technology. The zoom link will be provided closer to the event.


Plastics are considered modernity’s most “obedient” materials, crucial to contemporary organisations (e.g. hospitals and supermarkets); however, they become disobedient when they refuse to disappear once no longer needed. The pervasiveness and durability of these materials have contributed to generate the plastic crisis, that could be defined as a wicked problem (Rittel and Webber 1973), a “grand challenge” that requires a “robust action” (Ferraro et al. 2015). There is a recognition that such action could be addressed by meta-organisations (Ahrne and Brunsson 2005; Berkowitz and Dumez 2016) proposing Circular Economy solutions (e.g. Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2019).

I will use the story of a business-driven meta-organisation, here named “International Alliance for Sustainable Business” (IASB), to show how it attempts to “discipline” (Latour 1988, 1991) plastics through a certain enactment of the Circular Economy. It seems that IASB “circular” robust action implies a “nonmarket” (Bach and Blake 2016), i.e. members interrelate with each other, plastics and the invoked circular economy discourses, without competing. However, it seems that the IASB nonmarket “circular” robust action leads toward the creation of a market (Callon 1998) for recycling single-use plastics. Whilst recycling is a good start, evoking existing practices seems to reproduce a “business-as-usual” approach. In this seminar, I will discuss these implications related to the IASB response to the plastic crisis.

Contact Details

Name Mohammed Cheded