Juvien Galano

Title: Circularity for Plastic Waste in Developing Countries: Creating Protective Spaces for Reverse Logistics in the Philippines

Supervisor: Dr. Margit Kirs

Opponent: Nikiforos Tsiouris

Defense: 5 June 2023


Abstract: Plastic pollution remains a significant environmental challenge, especially in developing countries where inadequate infrastructure, weak policy implementation, and limited awareness and motivation hinder effective plastic waste management. Among these countries, the Philippines, along with neighboring Southeast Asian nations like Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, significantly contribute to ocean plastic pollution. Despite having environmental laws and active citizen participation in clean-up initiatives, the Philippines continues to struggle as one of the world's top plastic polluters. This study focuses on reverse logistics (RL) as a social innovation to address plastic waste management in developing countries, with a specific case study of the Philippines. RL involves collecting and recovering waste from the source to restore value streams, offering a sustainable approach to production and consumption. The research investigates the benefits and challenges of implementing RL, examines the success factors for reverse logistics organizations (RLOs), and explores the role of stakeholders in creating an enabling environment for RL adoption. Drawing on theoretical frameworks of social innovation, Strategic Niche Management (SNM) and Transformative Social Innovation Theory (TRANSIT), the study examines the emergence, development, and empowerment of RLOs in the Philippines. Through qualitative methods such as desk research and semi-structured interviews with representatives from RLOs, government institutions, communities, and companies, the research analyzes the relationships between RLOs and different actors in the network. The findings aim to shed light on the potential of RL as a transformative solution for plastic waste management in developing countries while providing insights into fostering stakeholder collaboration and creating supportive socio-institutional environments for RLOs. Ultimately, this study highlights the need to address the socio-institutional barriers that impede the emergence, development, and thriving of RLOs in developing countries, such as the Philippines, to effectively tackle the pressing issue of plastic waste pollution.


Keywords: Reverse logistics, circular economy, protective space, narratives of change, plastic waste, plastic waste management, co-creation, transformative social innovation