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International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology

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Waste -- Management, Plastic Pollution


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 research is an analysis of plastic waste management practices in Sri Lanka applying systems thinking, 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, beyond the engineering of waste systems. 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 through patterns of behavior, structure, and mental modes that can lead towards a sustainable future for Colombo.


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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 1–19.



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