Voluntary recycling despite disincentives



Briguglio M, Delaney L & Wood AM (2016) Voluntary recycling despite disincentives. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 59 (10), pp. 1751-1774.

This paper assesses the determinants of take-up of a voluntary waste separation scheme, in a scenario where residents sorted, stored and paid for collection of recycling waste even though mixed waste was collected at the kerbside more conveniently, free of charge and without any quantity limits. Uptake of the scheme was positive, persistent and diverse across localities, offering an opportunity to assess the factors determining voluntary participation in the presence of disincentives. We employ a unique panel data-set (n= 4,644) from Malta, including data on recyclable waste kilogrammes collected over the first 86 weeks of the scheme's operation. Drawing on insights from environmental economics and psychology, a model is empirically estimated. Results indicate that uptake is suppressed by the initial constraints households may face and stimulated by collection frequency. Political vote is an important determinant of participation and this interacts with scheme promotion to create diverse uptake rates.

voluntary; recycling; vote; policy; regional

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management: Volume 59, Issue 10

Publication date31/12/2016
Publication date online07/11/2015
Date accepted by journal19/08/2015
PublisherTaylor and Francis