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Uncertainty Regarding Waste Handling in Everyday Life

Author

Listed:
  • Greger Henriksson

    () (Department of Urban Planning and Environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Drottning Kristinas väg 30, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden)

  • Lynn Åkesson

    () (Department of Cultural Sciences, Lund University, P.O. Box 117, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden)

  • Susanne Ewert

    () (Department of Cultural Sciences, Lund University, P.O. Box 117, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden)

Abstract

According to our study, based on interviews with households in a residential area in Sweden, uncertainty is a cultural barrier to improved recycling. Four causes of uncertainty are identified. Firstly, professional categories not matching cultural categories—people easily discriminate between certain categories (e.g., materials such as plastic and paper) but not between others (e.g., packaging and “non-packaging”). Thus a frequent cause of uncertainty is that the basic categories of the waste recycling system do not coincide with the basic categories used in everyday life. Challenged habits—source separation in everyday life is habitual, but when a habit is challenged, by a particular element or feature of the waste system, uncertainty can arise. Lacking fractions—some kinds of items cannot be left for recycling and this makes waste collection incomplete from the user’s point of view and in turn lowers the credibility of the system. Missing or contradictory rules of thumb—the above causes seem to be particularly relevant if no motivating principle or rule of thumb (within the context of use) is successfully conveyed to the user. This paper discusses how reducing uncertainty can improve recycling.

Suggested Citation

  • Greger Henriksson & Lynn Åkesson & Susanne Ewert, 2010. "Uncertainty Regarding Waste Handling in Everyday Life," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(9), pages 1-15, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:2:y:2010:i:9:p:2799-2813:d:9492
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    cultural categories; waste; everyday life; habits; environmental sustainability; social practices;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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