Household Waste Segregation: Lessons from Poland

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för globala studier

Author: Alexander Stelmach; [2021-03-01]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: One of the problems facing the world in the twenty-first century is the management of municipal waste,a problem where the household plays a key role in the process through its interaction with themunicipal waste management system. How this interaction works is dependant not only on the designof the municipal waste management system, but also on the individual households. This studyintroduces the topic of household waste segregation, and finds that there is a lack of research withregard to how the various parameters of the dwelling affect the rate of waste segregation in households.To address this lack of research, a review of previous studies from a variety of disciplinary fields wasmade, based on which a survey study was conducted through social media. The study which wasperformed in Poland had a total of 50 local respondents. To better understand the scale and importanceof the underlying processes, a mixed methods approach was taken, where both qualitative andquantitative data were put through a three-step quantitative analysis to provide different perspectives.The first two steps analysed the correlations between various pairs of variables through a bivariateanalysis and explored the relationships between various obstacles to household waste segregation asreported by the householders. Whilst this was enough to provide a limited understanding of the data,to understand the overall importance of these various factors in relationship to one another, a third steputilising a non-linear multivariate analysis was performed using a multilayer perceptron procedurewhich utilises machine learning to create a predictive model. The results indicate that the mostimportant factor that influences household waste segregation is the willingness to exert effort, whichcan overcome obstacles faced in the process. The most frequent of these obstacles which was specifiedby 46% of the respondents is the availability of space at home to perform the segregation of waste,followed by the recyclability of waste which had 18%. The spatial factors ranked highly with regardto the householders’ rate of segregation, with the number of rooms per person ranking as the mostimportant after the willingness to exert effort. In conclusion, the data in this study indicates that themost efficient ways to improve the rate of waste segregation among householders is through increasingthe incentive to segregate waste, combined with the simplification of the recycling process throughmeans that take into account the effort and space required, such as a reduction of categories into whichwaste needs to be segregated.

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