A perspective on a locally managed decentralized circular economy for waste plastic in developing countries

Chandni Joshi, Jeffrey Seay, Noble Banadda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Unsound post-consumer disposal is the primary pathway of plastic into the ecosystem. One way of addressing this problem is through the establishment of a circular economy for plastic. Much of the unsound disposal comes from economically disadvantaged regions where waste disposal and recycling infrastructure is limited. In economically disadvantaged regions however, the establishment of a circular economy for plastic must be locally managed and decentralized, meaning that the disposal, collection, remanufacture, and use must all occur within the same community. We suggest that waste plastic abatement strategies must be targeted to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic waste onsite at the local level, initiating a circular economy appropriate for infrastructure limited regions. Technologies for recycling plastic must be low cost, economically viable, socially acceptable, and not adversely impact the environment, and also produce a product that has a ready local market. This is critical because unless proposed solutions are also economically viable and socially appropriate, they are unlikely to be successful, especially in underdeveloped regions. Using big data analysis, a metric for identifying countries that will have the most potential to benefit from a locally managed decentralized circular economy for plastic has been developed. The information obtained from this metric will help researchers and policy makers promote a locally managed decentralized circular economy of plastic for managing the accumulation of waste on land and its eventual migration into waterways. Additionally, we present a case study of a proposed locally managed decentralized waste plastic abatement strategy in the municipal solid waste infrastructure limited country of Uganda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Progress and Sustainable Energy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Institute of Chemical Engineers


  • alternate fuels
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • General Environmental Science


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