Understanding the role of the consumer in the quest for zero-waste

Degree type


Closing date

6 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

An estimated 25,000 tonnes of food waste is generated yearly by catering businesses in Australia[1]. This includes wet waste (food) and dry waste, including non-biodegradable materials (e.g., plastic, cans), generated in restaurants, cafés and other food service outlets. Resource-constrained small and medium-sized businesses struggle to develop capabilities that give them a competitive advantage while simultaneously trying to implement environmentally focussed measures, such as zero-waste operations. However, the consumer has been overlooked as a resource to facilitate businesses to move towards environmentally sustainable practices.

This project aims to identify business and consumer-level resources and capabilities to support zero-waste practices. The successful candidate will use insights from the literature to develop a theoretical framework for considering the consumer’s role in helping businesses transform waste into a resource in zero-waste supply chains. The empirical work will focus on cafés and restaurants in Tasmania, as Hobart, capital of the state is the first in Australia to introduce a ban on single-use plastic takeaway food packaging as part of a wider move to become single-use plastic-free. The successful candidate will conduct surveys and interviews with consumers, businesses and other key stakeholders (e.g., business networks) to understand zero-waste initiatives and practices in the industry. Responses will be analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods.

Insights from this project will be used to identify the resources, capabilities and/or pathways that are key to the development and implementation of waste elimination in Tasmanian businesses, with lessons applicable to businesses grappling with the same challenges elsewhere.

Supervisors: Dr Lin Yang, Professor Steven D’Alessandro

[1] Solo News. (2020) https://www.solo.com.au/latest_news/reducing-food-waste-in-the-hospitality-industry/

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Lin Yang


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience of conducting empirical research in the field of Marketing or Management, evidenced by an Honours/Masters dissertation or equivalent
  • Passion for issues associated with sustainability in Tasmania and beyond

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Evidence of academic writing/presentation via at least one conference or journal is desirable

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Lin Yang to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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