Waste management and reverse logistics in the humanitarian context

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


ABSTRACT. Purpose Humanitarian organisations have frequently been criticised for attending to their waste that results from delivering inappropriate items or excess packaging. Recognising this, several humanitarian organisations have joined an endeavour to reduce and manage the waste they generate. This paper supports this endeavour with reviewing academic and practitioner literature to further the understanding of the reverse logistics challenges and potential solutions in the humanitarian context. The purpose of this paper is to create a framework of waste management and reverse logistics in the humanitarian context. Design This literature review combines academic with practitioner literature on waste management, reverse logistics, humanitarian logistics and disaster management. Academic literature has been identified through keyword searches and complemented with case reports from waste management programmes. Findings Numerous greening endeavours exist across humanitarian organisations. Yet the research and documentation of waste management and reverse logistics is limited in this context. The analysis of the literature identified three main themes: the umbrella theme of environmental sustainability, and the specific subthemes of waste management and reverse logistics, with specific unique topics attributed to each. Research limitations/implications This paper maps out the current state of research and practice in waste management and reverse logistics in the humanitarian context. It highlights challenges and defines contextual differences and gaps that will guide future research. Practical implications The paper contributes to the learning across humanitarian organisations and their programmes. Social implications The focus of this paper is on the ecological side of humanitarian logistics. The identified challenges bear important policy implications locally, as well as for global donors. Originality This paper lays the foundations of a joint endeavour across humanitarian organisations in the area of waste management and reverse logistics. By bringing in insights from grey literature, it extends on the so far purely conceptual stream of literature in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNOFOMA 2022 conference proceedings
Publication date06.2022
Publication statusPublished - 06.2022
MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
Event2022 Annual NOFOMA Conference - Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 08.06.202210.06.2022
Conference number: 34


  • 512 Business and Management

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoHP: Humanitarian and societal logistics


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