Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Reduce, Reuse or Recycle? Household Decisions over Waste Prevention and Recycling

Ferrara, Ida and Missios, Paul (2016): Reduce, Reuse or Recycle? Household Decisions over Waste Prevention and Recycling.

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Abstract

Households have choices when it comes to reducing waste sent to landfills: reduction of consumption or packaging, reuse of goods purchased, or recycling. In this paper, we adopt a holistic approach to the analysis of these choices as separate but related facets of households' waste management behaviour. Theoretically, households produce waste as a by-product of their consumption and must then deal with it either by curbside disposal or by recycling. To the extent that managing additional waste is costly even if only in terms of time, households may also engage in waste prevention, that is, produce less waste by reducing their consumption level and/or changing their consumption patterns in favour of less waste-intensive products. As curbside disposal, waste prevention and recycling relate to the same problem and are linked via several constraints, we employ a three-equation mixed process estimation strategy which allows for the error terms of the three equations to be correlated. For the study, we rely on an original data set that permits defining waste prevention comprehensively from a list of 19 waste prevention activities, that provides for a more balanced policy representation (in terms of presence versus absence of unit pricing), and that covers a wide range of attitudinal elements, values, and norms. Given the richness of the data set, we also examine individuals' decisions over recyclable items that carry a refundable deposit in terms of both purchasing and returning habits, with particular attention to the interaction between a refundable deposit system and unit pricing.

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