Plastic Change

A mapping of how plastic is debated in images and text on social media, exploring what aspects of the issue the public is focused on. The project is a pilot that experiments with the potentials of using data science to create new visibility on the plastic agenda.

#Social Media #Digital Mapping #Image Recognition #Text analysis


Plastic Change works to minimize plastic in the world, engaging people and organisations in reducing consumption, reusing more, and cleaning plastic in nature. In that regard the NGO is looking to innovate how they communicate complex information about the plastic agenda in new and more engaging ways. Meanwhile, PC is curious to learn about the public’s awareness and knowledge on the issue, to enable more efficient campaigns in the future.


To explore the public’s perception of the issue, Backscatter harvests data from selected social media platforms, looking at approx. 5000 posts that use hashtags such as #cleantheocean, #singleusesucks, #reduceplastic and the like. Using machine learning like image recognition and natural language processing, we look for patterns and trends in the data to reveal what discourses are dominant in the public’s understanding of what matters in the plastic agenda.


Results are presented to Plastic Change and will be used to engage investors in building an interactive, online data platforms that leverages advanced data visualization to make complex information about the plastic agenda visual and accessible to the public in new ways.