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Geographers in the Spotlight

25 May 2019 1:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Nicole Garofano, UQ Candidate Development Award recipient

Ms Nicole Garofano, PhD Candidate at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland, has received a very competitive University of Queensland Graduate School’s Candidate Development Award. The award focusses on skills which will enhance employment opportunities after the degree and supports travel costs associated with the candidate’s research. Nicole will use her award to travel to London to present a paper at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society (RGS-IBG) Annual International Conference 27-30 August 2019. Congratulations to Nicole! Her itinerary also includes meetings with sustainability consultants in Manchester and London, 2 weeks with the Asian Development Bank Pacific Division and a return visit to Barbados and St Vincent to present her research findings to fieldwork stakeholders.

Nicole’s research focusses on Managing plastics waste in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Indian Oceans. Such states have small land area, limited human, financial and technical resources and few options to effectively manage plastics in both land and marine ecosystems. The plastic used for packaging foods and beverages is manufactured in distant and more developed economies, either as finished products (e.g. packaged rice or biscuits) or raw materials (e.g. plastic to make bags or bottles locally). Nicole is documenting a ‘Plastics System’ - the “flows of plastics” to and through geographically remote SIDS markets. In 2018, she did field work in Vanuatu, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Seychelles, conducting interviews, organising focus groups, packaging audits and field observation to generate flow maps of plastic materials from manufacturers to disposal or recycling.

Early findings identify opportunities for local innovative entrepreneurship for managing plastics which could generate livelihood benefits for SIDS communities. For example, on Union Island (in the St Vincent and Grenadines archipelago) a school-based collection programme for beverage containers uses the inter-island shipping service to send bottles to St Vincent for reprocessing and sale to secondary plastic markets. In Barbados, plastic beverage containers have been collected for in-country recycling into plastic roof tiles. In Vanuatu local entrepreneurs with trucks have adapted pre-paid waste collection systems, including plastics, removing material from remote villages for disposal at a regulated landfill.

Garofano, N 2019 (forthcoming), ‘Geography, islands and plastic: how documenting the flows can contribute to change’, presentation to the Royal Geographical Society RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019, London, 27-30 August 2019.

Garofano, N 2018, ‘Community-Based Recycling in a Small Island Developing State: A Case Study from Barbados’, paper presented to the International Solid Waste Association World Congress, Kuala Lumpur, 22-24 October 2018.

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