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Reduce, Reuse or Recycle? Household Decisions over Waste Prevention and Recycling

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  • Paul Missios

    () (Department of Economics, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)

  • Ida Ferrara

    () (Department of Economics, York University, Toronto, Canada)

Abstract

Households have choices when it comes to reducing waste sent to landfills: reduction of consumption or packaging, reuse of goods purchased, or recycling. In this paper, we adopt a holistic approach to the analysis of these choices as separate but related facets of households' waste management behaviour. Theoretically, households produce waste as a by-product of their consumption and must then deal with it either by curbside disposal or by recycling. To the extent that managing additional waste is costly even if only in terms of time, households may also engage in waste prevention, that is, produce less waste by reducing their consumption level and/or changing their consumption patterns in favour of less waste-intensive products. As curbside disposal, waste prevention and recycling relate to the same problem and are linked via several constraints, we employ a three-equation mixed process estimation strategy which allows for the error terms of the three equations to be correlated. For the study, we rely on an original data set that permits de ning waste prevention comprehensively from a list of 19 waste prevention activities, that provides for a more balanced policy representation (in terms of presence versus absence of unit pricing), and that covers a wide range of attitudinal elements, values, and norms. Given the richness of the data set, we also examine individuals' decisions over recyclable items that carry a refundable deposit in terms of both purchasing and returning habits, with particular attention to the interaction between a refundable deposit system and unit pricing.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Missios & Ida Ferrara, 2016. "Reduce, Reuse or Recycle? Household Decisions over Waste Prevention and Recycling," Working Papers 065, Ryerson University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:rye:wpaper:wp065
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ida Ferrara & Paul Missios, 2005. "Recycling and Waste Diversion Effectiveness: Evidence from Canada," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 30(2), pages 221-238, February.
    2. Heleen Bartelings & Thomas Sterner, 1999. "Household Waste Management in a Swedish Municipality: Determinants of Waste Disposal, Recycling and Composting," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 13(4), pages 473-491, June.
    3. Fullerton, Don & Kinnaman, Thomas C, 1996. "Household Responses to Pricing Garbage by the Bag," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 971-984, September.
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    6. Dijkgraaf, E. & Gradus, R. H. J. M., 2004. "Cost savings in unit-based pricing of household waste: The case of The Netherlands," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 353-371, December.
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    8. Palmer, Karen & Sigman, Hilary & Walls, Margaret, 1997. "The Cost of Reducing Municipal Solid Waste," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 128-150, June.
    9. Ida Ferrara & Paul Missios, 2012. "A Cross-Country Study of Household Waste Prevention and Recycling: Assessing the Effectiveness of Policy Instruments," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 88(4), pages 710-744.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Curbside Disposal; Recycling; Waste Prevention; Unit Pricing; Deposit-Refund System; Values; Norms; Attitudes; Mixed-Process Model.;

    JEL classification:

    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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