The Effect of Introducing a Curbside Recycling System on the Recycling Behavior of Households

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Nationalekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: This research investigates whether the implementation of a curbside recycling system has an effect on the behavior of households with regard to the recycling of packaging material in Sweden. Previous research presented in the literature points out that the decision to engage in recycling behavior, rather than free-riding on the contributions of others, is based on the perceived contribution of others. Complying with social norms and the experience of warm-glow constitute forms of utility that are derived from engaging in recycling behavior. The recyclable packaging materials glass, paper, plastic, and metal, as well as the total of these materials, are considered in this study. Recycling data from 247 municipalities for the years 2010-2020 are used to research this topic. The analysis is carried out using a difference-in-difference model with multiple time periods and a model presented by Callaway and Sant’Anna. A positive and significant change in household recycling was found for plastic packaging waste, amounting to an average increase of 1.57-2.92 kilograms per resident per year when the curbside recycling system was introduced. The change in recycling was also positive for paper, but this result was not robust to changes in the original model specification. Significant increases in recycling were found for total recycling, glass, and metal as well. However, it is considered uncertain whether the identifying assumptions that have to be fulfilled to establish causality of the results are satisfied. The introduction of a curbside recycling system increases household recycling because the time and effort that are required to recycle decrease. The results presented in this study are in line with this notion.

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