Solid waste generation in urban centres is predicted to increase to an annual rate of some 2.2 billion tonnes globally by 2025 (Hoornweg & Bhada-Tata 2012). These increases are driven in part by increasing economic status (UNEP n.d.). With increased generation comes changes to waste composition. Technological advances have also changed the way products are produced and consumed. In small island developing states (SIDSs) for example, the increased consumption of packaged products has changed the way waste needs to be managed (Morrison & Munro 1999; Philips & Thorne 2013; UNEP n.d.).

This project focuses on the generation of food and beverage packaging material (F&BPM) in SIDSs in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Using a value chain analysis framework, the steps included in the recycling value chain in up to four SIDSs will be examined. The intent is to identify barriers, constraints and enablers of F&BPM recycling as one element of an integrated solid waste management plan for island nations.

With several unique challenges, not least critical being limited land availability (Phillips & Thorne 2013), SIDSs have the opportunity to improve value extraction from F&BPM as a useful resource, potentially providing new streams of income which may contribute to economic and social outcomes in SIDSs communities. Through the act of recycling itself, environmental benefits such as reduced waste to landfill, reduced littering, and potential reductions in vectors such as mosquitoes, can be realised.

To date, several gaps in the literature have been identified including:

  • Recycling in archipelagic SIDSs in the Caribbean and Pacific;
  • Retention of F&BPM in SIDSs for local remanufacturing opportunities;
  • Contribution of recycling to economic and social outcomes in SIDSs;
  • Informal recycling in SIDSs; and
  • Motivation to recycling in SIDSs.

This research project seeks to address these gaps, using recycling value chains as the overarching framework of analysis. The project draws on several disciplines including social sciences, economics, engineering, and community development to answer the following research question:

What opportunities exist for in-country recycling of plastic food and beverage packaging material (F&BPM) in SIDSs that can contribute to economic and social outcomes in island communities?

With waste generation on the increase globally, this project aims to develop an island specific approach to F&BPM recycling as one part of a holistic and integrated solid waste management plan, some aspects of which could be considered in SIDSs globally.

Funding:  Australian Research Training Scheme
Advisors: Dr Karen McNamaraAssociate Professor Kelly Fielding

Project members


PhD candidate