First Advisor

Aaron Golub

Term of Graduation

Fall 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Plastic scrap -- Sri Lanka -- Colombo -- Management, Refuse and refuse disposal -- Sri Lanka -- Colombo, Waste minimization -- Sri Lanka -- Colombo, Refuse and refuse disposal -- Government policy -- Sri Lanka -- Colombo, Sustainability



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 369 pages)


Global plastic production continues to increase at an exponential pace, and global waste projections show waste generation rising by 70% by 2050. Plastic waste connects to all social processes, especially within the context of urbanization and development; urban planning and land management; GHG emissions; labor; social equity; public health; rural-to-urban migration; increasing population; increasing consumption; climate change; etc. The focus of this dissertation is an analysis of waste management practices in Sri Lanka using a grounded theory based methodology, with a goal to better understand the social and ecological impacts of plastic waste in Sri Lanka. This research fills a gap in understanding the complex social dynamics that factor into plastic management. The researcher works from the assumptions that waste is a social issue, that requires social responses that move beyond engineering and linear waste management; that designing a better or more efficient linear solid waste management system for the current realities of waste generation will only result in a continued, unsustainable waste system; and that plastics are truly a global challenge, relevant for global south contexts, and these challenges require local-appropriate solutions. The findings illuminate the network of local waste stakeholders, and highlight paths forward in waste reduction for Colombo that can lead towards a sustainable future.


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© 2020 Katie Conlon

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