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Seminar by Nicole Garofano on plastic food and beverage packaging and sustainability

Foods and beverages packaged in plastic are manufactured in developed economies or regional manufacturing hubs and sold globally, including into small island developing states. Research has shown that for SIDS, an increasing dependence on these imported products has resulted in changing food cultures. Increased packaged F&B consumption also contributes to environmental and other human health challenges. For SIDS, characteristics such as small and dispersed populations, limited land mass, and large oceans challenge their capacity to manage post-consumption F&B packaging material. While there have been recent policy and technological innovations to reduce and improve the management of plastic F&B packaging materials (hereafter known as ‘Plastics’), actual research on Plastics management in SIDS is limited.

This presentation discusses key findings from Nicole’s PhD research that examined how and why plastics flow to and through SIDS. The presentation draws from an extensive, primarily qualitative, dataset (129 semi-structured interviews, 122 structured interviews, 3 shelf audits, 3 waste packaging audits, informal interviews and observation), gathered across four SIDS (Vanuatu, Barbados, St Vincent and The Grenadines, and Seychelles) located in three regions (Pacific, Caribbean, and Indian Ocean).

The overarching contribution to knowledge is the documentation and analysis of the first multi-region, SIDS-focused Plastics assessment of three geographies: 1) single island nation; 2) small archipelago; and 3) larger archipelago. Delivered through this assessment are three unique elements: 1) complex Plastics mapping for SIDS; 2) the identification of locally appropriate innovation; and 3) a proposed mechanism to improve the traceability of Plastics to potentially reduce Plastics leakage.

Nicole Garofano is a PhD Candidate within the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Her research forms part of more than 15 years’ of working in and with SIDS. She spent nearly a decade working in Barbados as the Director of a non-governmental organisation focused on environmental education. There, Nicole was directly involved in the development and implementation of several successful and long running programmes including Clean Up Barbados and the CoRe NETWORK community recycling initiative. More recently, Nicole has coordinated and led community-based waste management research and planning projects in Vanuatu and Bangladesh with WasteAid. Nicole welcomes the opportunity to continue to support SIDS and other developing countries in changing how Plastics (and waste generally) are generated and managed. She will also be continuing to learn more about the packaging industry which supports the delivery of F&B to these countries and exploring related projects to create change in this space.

One thought on “Seminar by Nicole Garofano on plastic food and beverage packaging and sustainability

  1. Fascinating research Nicole. This is timely and highly relevant. Well done!

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