Environmental evaluation of localising production as a strategy for sustainable development: a case study of two consumer goods in Jamaica

S. N. Russell, J. M. Allwood

The objective of this study was to compare the life-cycle environmental impacts of changed production structures for two consumer goods (high-density polyethylene (HDPE) shopping bags and beds) in Jamaica. A scenario technique was used to construct three alternative production structures for each product; each scenario reflecting an increase in local production in Jamaica which depended on an increased supply of input materials which may be sourced:

  1. externally from overseas suppliers
  2. from post-consumer recycling, and
  3. locally on the island of Jamaica.

These three constructed scenarios were then compared to the existing supply chain or reference scenarios of the products. The results showed that for both case products the recycling scenario was most preferable for localising production, resulting in the lowest environmental impact. This was because the production of raw materials accounted for the largest effect on total environmental impact. As such, the most immediate environmental improvements were realised by lowering the production of virgin materials.