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Consumer Motivation to Recycle When Recycling is Mandatory. Two Exploratory Studies


  • D. Smeesters
  • L. Warlop
  • G. Cornelissen
  • P. Vanden Abeele


Household recycling is conceptualized as a social dilemma in which households have a choice between cooperative and defective options. Promoting cooperative choice in the recycling dilemma has emerged as an important issue for social marketing in recent years. Most of the available insights that could guide policy makers in designing appropriate social marketing strategies are based on research conducted in the context of voluntary recycling programs. Increasingly social marketing action takes the form of mandatory programs, albeit suffering from a lack of transparency and imperfect coercion. On the basis of two explorative studies into the underlying values and consumer experiences with mandatory programs, we argue that the primary intrinsic motivational basis for cooperation includes not only environmental but also ‘civic duty’ related values. We describe how these values drive both individual experiences of recycling behavior and the reactions to non-cooperative behavior by others. Implications for public policy and social marketing are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • D. Smeesters & L. Warlop & G. Cornelissen & P. Vanden Abeele, 2003. "Consumer Motivation to Recycle When Recycling is Mandatory. Two Exploratory Studies," Review of Business and Economic Literature, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Review of Business and Economic Literature, vol. 0(3), pages 451-468.
  • Handle: RePEc:ete:revbec:20030305

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