Solution for Recycling in Households
Providing Convenient and Accessible Solutions to Recycling, Identifying what Motivates People to Recycle and Policies that May Stifle Recycling
Recycling has become an important aspect of environmental protection. When people use material that has been recycled it reduces energy and resources spent on deriving products from raw materials. This is especially true of aluminum and paper. Most modern countries have taken a step to increase recycling. Some more so than others. For example, Japan makes household recycling mandatory while some states in the United States like New York require it as well but not as stringent as in Japan. Household recycling while still in its initial stages of implementation in Austrailia, can and has reduced waste products and provided recyclable materials for businesses, enabling higher rates of environmental conservation. This essay is meant to show how recycling in households has progressed and ways to increase recycling in households.
Recycling in households is a recent thing brought on by concern for the environment and the need for materials to make products. From 2006 to 2007, statistics demonstrated Australia to have generated at least 48 million tonnes of garbage/waste. From the amount generated, only a little over half was recycled. In 2010, only a third of steel cans in Australia were recycle and two thirds of aluminum cans. While 93% of households have access to conveniences like kerbside recycling services, households in Australia still refrain from recycling. In an article by Czajkowski, Hanley & Nyborg, (2015), the researchers find that a considerable share of their respondents favour to sort their waste in their own homes rather than recycling within a central sorting facility. “This preference is associated with a moral/intrinsic motivation, involving a belief that sorting at home is more thorough than central sorting” (Czajkowski, Hanley & Nyborg, 2015, p. 1). This could be for a number of reasons like privacy and having enough time to sort and wash out things meant for recycling. Regardless the article highlights the desire for people to recycle at home versus outside of the home. Perhaps recycling in the home can be a better solution to increasing recycling simply by making household recycling a norm.
Formulation of an Intervention Strategy
One thing that exists that may cause hiccups in recycling are tariffs like the progressive carbon tax implemented in British Columbia. ” … existing BC carbon tax is highly progressive even prior to consideration of the revenue recycling scheme, such that the negative impact of the carbon tax on households with below-median income is smaller than that on households with above-median income” (Beck, Rivers, Wigle & Yonezawa, 2015, p. 40). Households with bigger incomes are taxed more than those with fewer incomes. This may discourage lesser income households to recycle knowing they will not face the tax load experienced by the households with higher income. Studies have already shown people who recycle less are those with less income like young people.
An article by Saphores & Nixon (2014) reveals the two most likely populations to not recycle are minorities like African-American and young adults. ” … young adults and of African-Americans who tend to recycle less than others.” (Saphores & Nixon, 2014, p. 1). While this may not solely be based on income and Australia has differing rates of diversity, it does provide an indicator on which populations are willing to recycle versus those that are not, specifically young people. Identifying things like progressive taxes and population groups may help provide insight into what can be done to increase recycling in households while also understanding what motivates people to recycle.
An article by Halvorsen found the most significant motivations concerning household recycling are “the belief that recycling is good for the environment and that recycling is a civic duty” (Halvorsen, 2012, p. 18). Increasing the source of recycling services seems to have a major effect on household recycling. Another thing to note is that door-to-door collection as well as drop-off centers are the two most highly effective approaches in this respect. When people the choice and the convenience of where and how to recycle, it increases the likelihood they will.
It is not just enough to think that people will respond to environmental conservation and protection. People also respond to convenience and having options. That will motivate someone to recycle a lot more than just doing one thing and adding extra work to it. Another thing to take note of in terms of increasing recycling in households is the cost of kerbside recycling. “The best estimate of willingness to pay for kerbside recycling is $2.29/month” (Koford, Blomquist, Hardesty & Troske, 2012, p. 745).
Figuring out the costs of recycling and having extra services to get recycling done more conveniently will increase household recycling even in populations that do not recycle regularly. It all boils down to convenience and accessibility. “The study supports previous findings pointing at accessibility as a key factor for increased recycling behaviour” (Bernstad, la Cour Jansen & Aspegren, 2013, p. 94). People have to want to recycle not just, because it is the right thing to do, but because it is easy and not much of an inconvenience to them.
Another aspect of recycling that needs to be examined are policies. Sometimes too many policies can not only confuse the average consumer, but also decrease the rate at which people recycle. “Although deposits for plastic water bottles and curbside recycling separately increase recycling rates, their impacts are each less pronounced if both policies are in place” (Viscusi, Huber & Bell, 2012, p. 190). If there are simple rules in place in regards to recycling, people will have an easier time understand what to do and how to do it. Recycling can be hard to implement if people do not know what to recycle and where to place their recyclable material. Giving simple instructions like putting recyclable materials in clear trash bags can not only make it easier on the households recycling, but also the people in charge of taking the waste to processing plants.
One of the most recycle conscious countries in the world is Japan. They have several aspects of household recycling in place that is mandatory, while still accessible and convenient to households. “In recent years, a typical area in Japan makes at least 12 distinctions between trash types- — newspaper, cardboard, milk cartons, books and magazines, other “mixed” paper, rags, cans, bottles, PET bottles, other plastic” (Hays, 2015). People in Japan sort their trash with easy to follow instructions. They put their waste in various kinds of bags for easy sorting and have their waste picked up usually during specific times of the day.
The same occurs in the city of New York but on a simpler scale. People place their garbage in bags and recyclables in clear bags. They leave it in front of their house during certain times of the week and the city picks it up. If people do not provide adequate sorting of waste, they are fined. Recycling is mandatory for all households with superintendents usually in charge of sorting household waste in apartment buildings. It is a recently adopted system, but it helps get the message out there to recycle.
If Australia mandates all households to recycle, the country will see an increase in recycling. If the Australian government provides websites and easy to follow instructions on what to recycle, more households will recycle. If households are given incentives to recycle or options on where to recycle, there will be an increase. It is all about how the aspect of recycling is transformed into something obscure to something easy to understand and do.
In conclusion, recycling in households is a great solution to preserving and protecting the environment. Not only is it convenient, but it gives people options when recycling. Adding the convenience of curbside pickup makes people that may not be inclined to recycle, to recycle more often out of sheer convenience. While convenience, accessibility, and options can help increase recycling in households, mandatory recycling seems to add an extra layer of certainty that households will follow the rules and recycle.
Progressive taxes while implemented may not help increase household recycling. Things like this should be examined in order to avoid a decrease in consumer activity in regards to recycling. Countries like Japan and cities like New York have already implemented mandatory recycling and seen success. Australia can and will see improvement if the Australian government follows these suggestions.
Beck, M., Rivers, N., Wigle, R., & Yonezawa, H. (2015). Carbon tax and revenue recycling: Impacts on households in British Columbia. Resource And Energy Economics, 41, 40-69. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.reseneeco.2015.04.005
Bernstad, A., la Cour Jansen, J., & Aspegren, A. (2013). Door-stepping as a strategy for improved food waste recycling behaviour — Evaluation of a full-scale experiment. Resources, Conservation And Recycling, 73, 94-103. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2012.12.012
Czajkowski, M., Hanley, N., & Nyborg, K. (2015). Social Norms, Morals and Self-interest as Determinants of Pro-environment Behaviours: The Case of Household Recycling. Environmental And Resource Economics, 1. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10640-015-9964-3
Halvorsen, B. (2012). Effects of norms and policy incentives on household recycling: An international comparison. Resources, Conservation And Recycling, 67, 18-26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2012.06.008
Hays, J. (2015). RECYCLING IN JAPAN — Facts and Details. Factsanddetails.com. Retrieved 1 October 2015, from http://factsanddetails.com/japan/cat26/sub162/item869.html
Koford, B., Blomquist, G., Hardesty, D., & Troske, K. (2012). Estimating Consumer Willingness to Supply and Willingness to Pay for Curbside Recycling. Land Economics, 88(4), 745-763. http://dx.doi.org/10.3368/le.88.4.745
Saphores, J., & Nixon, H. (2014). How effective are current household recycling policies? Results from a national survey of U.S. households. Resources, Conservation And Recycling, 92, 1-10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2014.08.010
Viscusi, W., Huber, J., & Bell, J. (2012). Alternative Policies to Increase Recycling of Plastic Water Bottles in the United States. Review Of Environmental Economics And Policy, 6(2), 190-211. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/reep/res006
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