Cutting single-use plastics in Solomon Islands schools

  • 2018
  • United Nations Development Programme

Single-use plastics are a major problem for small island states given these countries’ limited recycling infrastructure.


People have a behavioural tendency to stick with pre-set options (defaults). Changing the default can therefore change behaviour.

Single-use containers are standard in food shops, so changing this default could be an effective avenue for change –especially if combined with attractive social incentives.


In schools in the Solomon Islands, thousands of single-use plastic food containers are discarded every day. We ran trials in five schools to see what works to cut their usage.

Result & Impact

A deposit return scheme was most effective, but only with schools’ active support. Other plastic use also dropped in some schools, suggesting a wider effect on plastic use.