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Reverse logistics in household recycling and waste systems: a symbiosis perspective

A Jalil, Emy Ezura; Grant, David B.; Nicholson, John D.; Deutz, Pauline


Emy Ezura A Jalil

David B. Grant

John D. Nicholson


Purpose: The article investigates the proposition there is a symbiosis effect for exchanges between household waste recycling systems (HWRS) and household recycling behaviour (HRB) within the reverse logistics (RL) discourse. Design/methodology/approach: The article contains empirical findings from a two phase, multi-method approach comprising consecutive inductive and deductive investigations. The qualitative and quantitative data underpin exploratory and explanatory findings which broaden and deepen understanding of this phenomenon. Findings: Analysis identified significant interactions between situational and personal factors, specifically demographic factors, impacting on HRB with key factors identified as engagement convenience, availability and accessibility. Research limitations/implications: Findings confirm the existence of a symbiosis effect between situational and personal factors and inform current research threads in the environmental sciences, behavioural and logistics literature, particularly identifying consumers as being an important pivot point between forward and reverse logistics flows. Practical implications: Findings should inform RL-HWRS design by municipalities looking to more effectively manage MSW and enhance recycling and sustainability. RL practitioners should introduce systems to support recovery of MSW in sympathy with communication and education initiatives to affect HRB and should also appreciate a symbiosis effect in the design of HWRS. Social implications: The social implications of improved recycling performances in municipalities are profound. Even incremental improvements in the performance of HWRS can lead to enhanced sustainability through higher recycling rates, reduced diversion of MSW to landfill, decreases in pollution levels, reduced carbon footprints and reduction in depletion of scarce natural resources. Originality/value: The paper marks an early contribution to the study of symbiosis in HWRS and HRB pertaining to RL. Findings are offered that identify the key situational and personal factors that interact to affect HWRS, and also offer insights above those available in current multi-disciplinary literature that has largely examined such factors in isolation. Conclusions offer the possibility of an epistemological bridge between the social and natural sciences.


A Jalil, E. E., Grant, D. B., Nicholson, J. D., & Deutz, P. (2016). Reverse logistics in household recycling and waste systems: a symbiosis perspective. Supply chain management, 21(2), 245-258.

Acceptance Date Sep 16, 2015
Publication Date Mar 14, 2016
Deposit Date Jan 15, 2016
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Supply chain management : an international journal
Print ISSN 1359-8546
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 2
Pages 245-258
Keywords Reverse logistics; Symbiosis; Household waste recycling systems; Mixed methods; Household recycling behaviour
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the author's accepted manuscript of an article which has been published in: Supply chain management : an international journal, 2016, v.21, issue 2.


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