Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (School of Law and Business)

First Supervisor

Alessandro Bressan

Second Supervisor

Felicity Rawlings-Sanaei


Australians generate almost 545kg of annual kerbside waste per capita, one of the highest amounts compared to other OECD countries (Blue Environment, 2022). Although kerbside systems in Australian metropolitan areas are well-developed and the recycling practice is considered a social norm, residents' inaccurate handling of recyclable items send as much as 35% of valuable recyclable materials to landfill, contributing to environmental harm (Cleanaway Waste Management Limited, 2021). Furthermore, newly established recycling schemes in Australian jurisdictions are not used to their full potential.

In the context of both issues, the current thesis aims to understand the underperforming nature of recycling practices and provide recommendations on approaches to recover more recyclable materials. More specifically, this thesis analyses household recycling behaviours through the lens of Social Practice Theory (SPT). The results reveal that inefficient household kerbside recycling practices are rooted in specific inefficient material elements (such as different industry technologies, complex packaging, and a general underdeveloped industry landscape for resource recovery) built around the practice, leading to a lack of sorting and separation skills. In the context of newly implemented recycling schemes, such schemes are often overruled by the convenient kerbside system, leading to the continuous inaccurate handling of recyclable items.

This thesis contributes to translating practice-based insights associated with inefficient household recycling into practice-based recommendations for environmental practitioners. Within a broader agenda, this thesis contributes to a growing body of literature highlighting the limitations of traditional environmental education campaigns while proposing a practice-based approach to reframe responses to escalating environmental issues.

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