Challenges and opportunities for scaling up waste upcycling businesses in Sri Lanka: Insights from social enterprises and retail businesses
Upcycling is a process in which waste materials are converted into something of higher quality and value in a second life. Despite the recent growth evidenced by the increasing number of businesses based on upcycling, it remains a marginal activity. The aim of this paper, then, is to examine the challenges and opportunities social enterprises encounter in scaling up their businesses. The paper is based on an analysis of three case studies and insights from retail businesses and other actors in the waste economy in Sri Lanka. Collected data were analysed using the Integrated Sustainable Waste Management model (ISWMM). Improved materials provision, communication and education to raise public awareness and product acceptance, quality control of products, creating new markets and financial support for upcycling have been identified as priority interventions for scaling up upcycling businesses in Sri Lanka. The paper concludes by proposing strategies to overcome some of these challenges.
Key words: Upcycling, social enterprises, plastic waste, ISWM, Sri Lanka