Willingness to pay for recycling food waste in the Brisbane Region
Kerbside recycling in Australia has focused on paper, cardboard, plastics and bottles and in some areas green waste. Another area for potential kerbside recycling is organic waste. This study uses a dichotomous choice contingent valuation format with follow-up open-ended willingness to pay question to estimate the household willingness to pay for the introduction of a kerbside recycling scheme for kitchen waste. Two provision rules were used. The first sample split contained a majority decision rule while the second sample split contained a provision rule where participation is voluntary. Households across the Brisbane statistical sub-division currently pay in the order of $250 per annum for their kerbside waste collection scheme. This study indicates that on average Brisbane households would be WTP an additional $32 to $35 per year for a general waste bin where food waste is split from general waste. There was no significant difference in results between sample splits with majority or voluntary provision rules. Whether the provision of a food waste recycling scheme is economically efficient requires a consideration of all the potential costs and benefits. Other relevant costs and benefits for inclusion in a benefit cost analysis would include those associated with bin replacement, any additional collection and transport costs, composting costs, revenues from compost sales and avoided landfill costs. If a compulsory food waste recycling scheme could be provided to all households for less than $32 to $35 per household per annum then the benefits of the scheme would exceed the costs and would be considered to be economically efficient and desirable from a community welfare perspective. Given the difficulties of estimating precise WTP values from dichotomous choice data, any BCA of a compulsory scheme incorporating the results of this study should undertake sensitivity testing that includes the range of values reported including dichotomous choice and open-ended means to determine the robustness of BCA results to variations in the welfare estimate. Notwithstanding, the results of any BCA, decision-makers also need to be cognisant of the high proportion of respondents who did not support a kerbside food waste recycling scheme. The data from the study could also be used to undertake a BCA of a voluntary scheme.
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