How to Spur Consumer Recycling, Reduce Contamination

URL: http://sustainablebrands.com/read/behavior-change/behavior-change-research-shows-how-to-spur-consumer-recycling-reduce-contamination

This report summarizes the findings of a literature review on recycling behavior, commissioned in 2020 by the U.S. Can Manufacturers Institute. The main findings focus on bin design, convenient collection, messaging and norm appeals, choice of messenger, and incentives.

  • Bin Design: One study found that, compared with collection bins without lids, those with a flap lid for trash, a lid with a 6-inch hole for recyclables and a lid with a narrow slit for paper increased proper recycling by 34% and reduced contamination by 95%.
  • Convenient Collection: About half of Americans said that laziness influenced them to not recycle. Those who had curbside collection were more likely to throw away their garbage if they did not have at-home collectuion bins or if those bins were too small and filled up too quickly.
  • Messaging: Positively framed messages, norm appeals, and emphasizing the transformation of the 'waste' material were associated with higher recycling rates. Messages focused on 'today' worked best when they presented what people had to lose by not recycling, while messages that focused on 'tomorrow' worked best when they described what people could gain by recycling.
  • Messengers: Messages from family members and other credible messengers were particularly influential. 
  • Incentives: Variable cash incentives worked best to promote recycling, but had a shorter-term effect than informational interventions. 
Topics: Environment:, Waste:, recycling of
Resource Type: strategies and interventions, consumer research
Publisher: Can Manufacturers Institute
Date Last Updated: 2023-03-14 14:07:31

Search the Topic Resources

Click for Advanced Search »