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A critical assessment of the paradigms for solid waste management in Pacific Island countries

Mataki, Melchior (2011) A critical assessment of the paradigms for solid waste management in Pacific Island countries. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Solid waste management (SWM) in the Pacific Islands has not progressed much over the past four decades. For example, its technical and functional aspects can be succinctly described as being primarily concerned with the collection, disposal and open burning of wastes in landfills (most of which are dumps). The current state of SWM is posited to be underpinned by the paradigms informing SWM. Paradigms model problems and rationalise the course and types of actions taken to resolve problems within any practical field. Consequently, this study critically assessed prevailing paradigms of SWM at the global and regional levels, and examined if there was a need for an alternative paradigm for SWM in Pacific Island Countries (PICs).

The two overarching paradigms of solid waste management recognised globally are public health and environmental protection. The latter is at present the core paradigm for solid waste management, and it also has a number of derivatives which are also considered by their adherents as paradigms in their own right. In PICs, both overarching paradigms underpin SWM with public health protection showing overall dominance because of the historical association of SWM and public health, and the existing legislations and institutional arrangements.

The impacts and influence of these overarching paradigms were examined in detail using a set of indicator wastes within the context of Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands. Although prevailing paradigms were relevant, they exacerbated SWM problems, limited management

options and alienated the biophysical and socioeconomic conditions of Honiara from SWM. Consequently a systems based paradigm was proposed and tested on a set of indicator wastes in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. At the operational level, the systems paradigm advocates for the expansion of SWM interventions across its three sub-systems: (a) material system, (b) consumer system and (c) solid waste system. The systems paradigm offered a fresh perspective on SWM in PICs, and stands out as a potential paradigm for SWM in PICs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Supervisor(s): Nair, Jaya and Ho, Goen
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