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Discontinuous Behavioral Responses to Recycling Laws and Plastic Water Bottle Deposits

Author

Listed:
  • W. Kip Viscusi
  • Joel Huber
  • Jason Bell
  • Caroline Cecot

Abstract

Economic theory predicts that individual recycling behavior gravitates toward extremes--either diligent recycling or no recycling at all. Using a nationally representative sample of 3,158 bottled water users, this article finds that this prediction is borne out for consumer recycling of plastic water bottles. Both water bottle deposits and recycling laws foster recycling through a discontinuous effect that converts reluctant recyclers into diligent recyclers. Within this context, a number of factors influencing recycling emerge. The warm glow from being both an environmentalist and an environmental group member is about equal to the monetary value of 5 cent bottle deposits. Respondents from states with stringent recycling laws and bottle deposits have greater recycling rates. Consistent with recycling being a threshold response, the efficacy of these policy interventions is greater for those who do not already recycle, have lower income, and do not consider themselves to be environmentalists.

Suggested Citation

  • W. Kip Viscusi & Joel Huber & Jason Bell & Caroline Cecot, 2009. "Discontinuous Behavioral Responses to Recycling Laws and Plastic Water Bottle Deposits," NBER Working Papers 15585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15585
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Crociata, Alessandro & Agovino, Massimiliano & Sacco, Pier Luigi, 2015. "Recycling waste: Does culture matter?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 40-47.
    2. Damien BROUSSOLLE, 2017. "Quel Systeme Incitatif Realiste Pour La Politique De Reduction Des Dechets Menagers ? Enseignements Tires De La Litterature Economique Et Du Cas Français / What Workable Incentive Scheme For The Reduc," Working Papers of LaRGE Research Center 2017-11, Laboratoire de Recherche en Gestion et Economie (LaRGE), Université de Strasbourg.

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    JEL classification:

    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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