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Who Recycles

Who Recycles

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Journal ofEnvimnmento1 Psychology CD1996 Academic Press Limited

(1995) lS, lOE-121





The Claremont


School, 123E Eighth Street, Claremont,

CA 91711-3955,


Despite the societal importance of reusing waste materials, few empirical studies have specifically examined recycling behaviors as differentiated from attitudes and intentions. This paper reviews the empirical studies of recycling, summarizes research findings, and identifies areas for future research. The effects on recycling behavior of both personal variables (personality, demographics, and attitudes of environmental concern) and manipulable situational variables are reviewed. Results indicate that high income is a good predictor of recycling, whereas gender and age are not. General environmental concern appears to be related to recycling only when recycling requires a high degree of effort. However, relevant specific attitudes have consistently been found to correlate with recycling behavior. The seven situational variables reviewed (prompts, public commitment, normative influence, goal setting, removing barriers, providing rewards, and feedback) all produce significant increases in recycling behavior. However, there are several major limitations to the research. Results are based largely on single-variable assessments of recycling, and fail to consider interactions with characteristics of the environment or the population involved.

Introduction The need to recycle used materials has become a pressing issue over the last 30 years (Ladd, 1990). This increasing concern is clearly evidenced in the proliferation of federal, state, and local legislation directed toward the implementation .of recycling programs. In 1993 in the U.S.A., 41 of the 50 states had in place laws specifying a minimum level of refuse that must be recycled (Grogan, 1993). Despite the increasing concern regarding conservation of natural resources, scant psychological research has been conducted on recycling or conservation behaviors as differentiated from attitudes, intentions, and beliefs. Although reviews of varied pro-environmental behaviors have previously been published (Geller et al., 1982; Dwyer et al., 19931, the topic of recycling behaviors has received relatively little attention. Given the recent explosion of communitywide recycling programs in the U.S.A. and other

countries, a review of the scientific research is needed. This paper reviews the empirical psychological research conducted on factors that influence focuses on two general

recycling behavior.
This literature review

strategies of investigation: The personal strategy

personal and situational. for studying recycling

behaviors has attempted to identify characteristics of an individual that are associated with recycling behavior. Such characteristics include attitudes about the environment, demographic variables, and personality constructs. The situational strategy attempts to identify manipulable aspects of a particular environment that facilitate recycling behaviors. Two general classes of variables have been studied: antecedents and consequences (Geller, 1989). The term recycling can be defined as the process through which materials previously used are collected, processed, remanufactured, and reused (Ruiz, 1993). This paper focuses exclusively on the collection process. For a discussion of processing and reusing aspects of recycling, see Cichonski and Hill (1990). During the past 10 years, the types of materials collected and recycled have increased greatly, as have the strategies used to collect recyclable material. Folz (1991) listed 13 materials that were being collected and recycled in municipal recycling programs as of 1990. Data obtained through reports from a national sample of 264 municipal programs indicated that the five most commonly collected materials were: newspaper (96%), glass (94%), ahuninium (88%), plastics no. 1 and no. 2 (67%), and cardboard/corrugated paper


and later to community-wide recycling. Although attitudes often are not strong indicators of behavior. Also. Analysis of the research indicated that the time period in which the study was conducted seemed to affect the results. These personal variables can be broken down into four basic classes: environmental attitudes. Research findings regarding the relationship between attitudes and recycling behaviors have been generally consistent with attitude-behavior theories. five reported a positive relationship. One possible explanation of this difference might cite the fact that articles reporting no relationship are usually not published unless they contest a previous finding. though relatively small relationships. The hypothesis that people who are more concerned with general environmental issues are more likely to recycle is a special case of the issue of correspondence between attitudes and behavior (Ajzen & Fishbein. they frequently have been found to be significant predictors (Wicker. In addition to the growing number of materials being recycled. and personality variables. W. Environmental attitudes Summary table ofpersonal Personal variable correlates of recycling Number Research findings of studies Global environmental attitudes Specific environmental beliefs Knowledge about recycling Demographic variables Age Gender Income Education Ethnicity Personality variables Responsibility Rigidity Locus of control 8 4 3 5 5 4 6 1 2 2 1 Positive when effort is required Positive relationship Positive relationship Unclear Women more likely to recycle than men Positive relationship Unclear Unclear Recyclers more responsible Unclear Recyclers more likely to have internal locus of control Research into attitudinal predictors of recycling behavior has examined both general concern for the environment and specific concern regarding a particular issue. Of the eight assessments. 1969). and community leaders need to understand the factors that lead people to recycle. With the growth of environmental concern has come an increased interest in recycling programs. whereas three of the four studies reported in the 1990s reported no relationship. TABLE1 (61%). Early recycling programs were predominantly voluntary and restricted to the collection of one or two specific materials. the recycling situation and procedures today are very different from those of ten years ago. However. modern recycling programs place more stress on broad participation. because most states are attempting to divert a certain percentage of recyclable material out of the waste stream. Schultz et al. knowledge. In attempting to develop effective and sustainable ways to reduce the amount of trash being buried in landfills. Schultz and Oskamp (1994) reviewed eight assessments of the relationship between environmental concern and recycling behaviors. and later studies may contest it. The majority of reported studies. to voluntary curbside collection. scientists. demographic variables.106 P. have found significant. rather than separated by types>. 1977. from short-term campaigns and drop-off programs. early recycling research provides a useful assessment of the relative effectiveness of various recycling interventions and is included in this review. whereas three reported no significant relationship. All the studies conducted prior to 1980 reported a positive relationship. with recycled materials either being separated by the householder or commingled (placed in a single container. most recycling programs have one thing in common-reliance on individual participation. policy-makers. Rokeach. In essence. Who Recycles? Research taking the personal approach to the study of recycling behaviors has explored several different types of variables. Despite these changes. 1979). Each of these classes is discussed in turn (see Table 1 for a simple overview of the 6ndingsl. It is important to note that caution should be used in generalizing research results from studies conducted 10 or more years ago. a theoretically more intriguing hypothesis . there have been changes in the typical types of recycling programs. Thus. early studies in any area tend to report a significant relationship. investigating the ability of general environmentzil concern to predict recycling behaviors. This is in sharp contrast to modern curbside recycling programs that collect multiple materials. Despite procedural differences.

Items loading on this factor were never thought about it’. higher earners (Van Liere & Dunlap. the more likely that person is to recycle. Oskamp et al. that not enough trash was generated to make recycling worthwhile. or to reduce garbage costs. Items measuring aspects of nuisance. research on the relationship of specific attitudes to recycling behaviors has usually found consistent and significant results. and doing so for more reasons than just altruistic concern for the environment. there are not established scales for measuring specific attitudes pertaining to recycling. In sum. urban dwellers (Butte1 & . Several recent studies reported significant relationships between recycling and specific beliefs. and indifference. The first factor that emerged from Howenstine’s analysis of reasons for not recycling. and with the inconvenience of recycling than did recyclers. location. A study by Howenstine (1993) that closely examined specific beliefs about recycling was conducted with 574 Chicago households. Vining and Ebreo (1990) argued that the greatest difference between recyclers and nonrecyclers is their knowledge of collectable materials. it is too messy. have developed separate questions with little or no theoretical guidance. so the empirical examinations. along with a reduction in the amount of effort required to recycle. Concurring results have been obtained in two other investigations. location. Stern et al. female (McStay & Dunlap. Three studies found knowledge to differentiate recyclers from nonrecyclers. The second factor that emerged from Howenstine’s (1993) factor analysis. the proliferation of recycling programs brought incentives. the relationship between general environmental concern and recycling seems to have diminished or disappeared. 19741. The third factor that emerged from Howenstine’s analysis of reasons for not recycling was labeled indifirence. Demographic variables Before turning to the relationship of recycling and demographic variables. Gamba and Oskamp (1994) reported similar findings: both self-reported and observed recycling were significantly positively correlated with the belief that recycling is effective at preserving the environment. Gamba and Oskamp (1994) and De Young (1989) found similar results. and lack of knowledge about where to take materials. concerns for specific related issues remain significant predictors of recycling. A questionnaire asked recyclers which materials they recycled. Vining and Ebreo (1990) found that nonrecyclers reported more concern with financial incentives and rewards. included beliefs that the recycling center was too far away. nuisance. Factor analysis of the 12 reasons rated by the nonrecyclers revealed three factors that accounted for 54% of the variance: nuisance. 1983. Despite the decreasing trend in the relationship between general environmental concern and recycling. However. Prior to 1980. Mohai & Twight. and ‘it’s hard to move the recycling bin to the curb’. both monetary and social. a brief mention should be made of the relationship of demographics to general environmental concern. recycling programs were just getting started. (1991) suggested that recycling behaviors may be less related to knowledge about global environmental issues than to knowledge about the specifics of recycling. 19801. Knowledge Knowledge about the recycling program has been found to correlate with recycling.. Gamba and Oskamp (1994) found that infrequent recyclers were more likely than frequent recyclers to endorse personal inconveniences like ‘no space for my recycling bin’. In general. 1976. better educated (Arbuthnot. Past research findings have indicated that people with the highest level of environmental concern tend to be young (Butte1 & Flinn.Who Recycles and When? 107 is that the relationship between environmental concern and recycling has decreased over the years. and asked nonrecyclers to rate each of 12 reasons for not recycling. it is too much trouble. they found recyclers to have significantly more knowledge about recycling than non-recyclers. 19871. There generally were few if any incentives to participate. or where recyclables are collected. included ideas that recycling does not pay. labeled location. and it requires too much space. However. Respondents were classified as recyclers (n = 227) or nonrecyclers (n = 347). 19931. In their study of 197 Illinois households. stating that they recycled to earn money. and indifference have all been found to be related to recycling. though reaching similar conclusions. Schultz and Oskamp (1994) argued that under conditions in which recycling requires a high amount of effort. the more information a person has about which materials are recyclable. and the amount of effort required to participate was high. Because more people are recycling today. Infrequent recyclers were also more likely to identify financial incentives as a motivation for recycling. and ‘it makes no difference’. only people who were environmentally concerned would recycle.

Schultz & Stone. Vining & Ebreo. Jacobs et al. 1991. Five recent studies reported findings on age and recycling. Schultz et cd. though. parental education. 1994). Education has been investigated as a possible predictor of recycling behavior. though there has been a limited attempt to define a recycling personality. Further. Research findings regarding the relationship of gender to recycling are clear. O&amp et al. indicating that older residents are more likely to recycle. 1992). 1991. gender.108 P. 1975. Howenstine (1993) studied household recycling behavior reported by 574 Chicago college students in a sample whose ethnic diversity appeared representative of the surrounding community. and 51% of Whites claimed to recycle.. Lansana. In a sample of 250 urban households. Hopper & Nielson. W. 1977). has yet to be adequately explored. this assessment did not consider possible third variables (e. The authors argued. and too few studies have examined ethnic differences to reach any conclusions. 1975. and ideologically liberal (Dunlap.. research on demographic variables has found that higher income appears to predict recycling behavior whereas the person’s gender does not. Personality variables Few studies have assessed the relationship between personality constructs and recycling behavior. In studies on recycling behavior. 1990. income. The disparate results may be due to the range of education levels included in the samples. (19911. That is. Although these variables frequently have been correlated with environmental concern. but the two variables were significantly positively related in communities having voluntary recycling programs. 12% of Hispanics. three found no relationship (Hopper & Nielson. the person doing the recycling on a given occasion may be replaced by a person of the opposite gender on other occasions. Five studies that studied the relationship between gender and recycling were unanimous in 6nding no significant relationship (Webster. The findings for age are contradictory. across communities where recycling was mandatory. Webster (1975) found that recyclers scored higher than nonrecyclers on both a socially conscious consumerism scale and a measure of social responsibility. men and women are equally likely to recycle. The relationship between mental rigidity and recycling. In a study of commingled curbside recycling. Vining and Ebreo (1990) and Lansana (1992) both reported a positive relationship. In questionnaire data from 500 households. 19801. income. Unlike gender. recyclers participate in recycling programs because they believe they have a duty to society. Webster (1975) argued that recyclers can be characterized as socially conscious consumers who have a high level of social responsibility. Oskamp et al. whereas the three studies that found positive relationships were based on samples with a wider range in education levels. 1975. see Weigel. Thus. All three studies that failed to find a relationship between education and recycling were based on fairly affluent samples. and Gamba and Oskamp (1994) all reported a significant positive relationship. (19841. In a national sample of community recycling programs. Flinn. Gamba and Oskamp (1994) reported a small significant negative correlation of age to self-reported recycling. Folz and Hazlett (1991) found that. the median age was significantly negatively related to recycling as measured by the rate of waste diversion. the four most often reported demographic variables are age. Because recycling is often a household behavior. 1990. their relationship to recycling behavior has been less consistent. People who make more money are more likely to recycle than people who make less money. Vining and Ebreo (1990). 28% of Blacks. the results of these studies are ambiguous as to both the existence and direction of the relationship between age and recycling. Overall. suggesting that recyclers may be less behaviorally rigid than nonrecyclers. however. that responsibility is not . Oskamp et al. Van Liere & Dunlap. 1991. The relationship of ethnicity to recycling has not received much research attention. recyclers were more likely to ‘feel a sense of responsible action’ than nonrecyclers. However. Of the six studies that reported on the relationship between education and recycling. Simmons and Widmar (1990) also supported the finding that recyclers are charcterized by a feeling of responsibility. recyclers were more tolerant (as measured by the California Personality Inventory) than nonrecyclers. In an early study. 1976. income has consistently been found to correlate positively with recycling behavior. Gamba & Oskamp.g. (1991) found no relationship between age and selfreported recycling among community residents in a voluntary curbside recycling program. Gamba & O&amp. whereas the other three reported a positive relationship (Webster. 1994) (for an earlier review. and education. 1991. Overall. 19941. and because they feel they can make a difference. Vining & Ebreo. Research findings on education are less uniform but suggest the possible existence of a relationship between greater education and recycling. or occupaton). Oskamp et al. Results indicated that 28% of Asians.

and it can be delivered in writing. and De Young (1993). the effect size estimates are provided only as descriptive statistics. least expensive. it appears that the relationship may be positive. 1991). it is necessary to examine situational variables to account for a larger portion of variance in recycling. and more specifically to recycling behavior. From the above review of personal predictors of recycling. Hines et al. . including recycling. and comparison across studies based on the available information would be unwarranted. 1978. is clearly not dependent upon city socioeconomic characteristics or other political features of the community. . there emerges a tentative list of demographic and personality variables that may be associated with recycling. 1974. goal-setting.Who Recycles and When? 109 enough-only when it is coupled with knowledge about recycling programs does social responsibility predict recycling behavior. or about the community’s recycling program) is presented to potential participants before the recycling program begins (or continuing during the program). Cohen’s d is a standard metric intended for comparing results across studies (Cooper & Hedges. Because recycling has not attracted an abundance of research. normative influence. In a prompting intervention. 1974). and least intrusive of all the antecedent intervention strategies. and removal of barriers to recycling. What explained large portions of the variance in recycling performance among cities with different programs were the specific recycling policies adopted . (1982). or in person. researchers have attempted to apply behavior analysis methods to problems pertaining to the environment. The other metric reported in the table. (See Table 2 for a schematic summary of behavioral intervention studies. the scheme classifies behavioral intervention strategies into two groups: antecedent and consequence interventions. 1994). d’. and in these cases other indications of quantitative findings are presented (e. The idea that recyclers believe they can make a difference gains support from the research on environmental concern. when the data permitted it. about the relevance of recycling to alleviating solid wast problems. Prompting Situational Factors-Antecedents Over the last 20 years. see Cook Prompting represents the simplest. or transportation use (see also Geller et al. litter control. (p. Any intervention designed to increase recycling behavior by altering a variable prior to performance of the behavior (e. 1982. over the telephone. This is not a meta-analysis. Many of the studies reviewed failed to provide sufficient information to calculate an effect size estimate. few studies have been reported on each intervention.g. These authors’ framework can be applied to any behavioral intervention research area. is simply the difference between two proportions. Five types of antecedent variables have been studied: prompting. persuasive. defined as the difference between sample means divided by the average standard deviation. Although the relationship between internal locus of control and recycling apparently has only been directly tested by one study (Arbuthnot. which can be defined as a belief that a person can determine his/her own destiny (Lefcourt. These three studies focused on . delivering recyclables to a collection center) is classified as an antecedent strategy. (1990). In an analysis of community characteristics that predict recycling. For other possible organizational schemes. Borden & Francis. However. 1982). The effect size estimates are reported either as Cohen’s d. or as d’. This information can be factual. For these reasons. Several studies (Arbuthnot. and other features related to the program’s operation. or merely reminders. energy conservation. information (e. experimental group significantly greater than control group). and is reported in cases where information on standard deviations was not available. Oskamp. 1986. 531) Thus. studies are listed in chronological order within each topical section of the table). collecting recyclables. effect size estimates have been computed for each intervention. Briefly. and Berrenberg (1981). although the link between environmental concern and recycling is not strongly established. the percentage of variance in recycling behavior accounted for by individual variables is probably small. Folz and Hazlett (1991) concluded: recycling success.g. although some personal variables may be related to recycling behavior. Twelve studies have examined the effects of prompting on recycling behavior. as measured by participation and diversion. namely the treatment and the control conditions. In the following review. 1986-1987) have found concern for the environment to be associated with an internal locus of control.g. Three studies showed that a single prompt alone increased recycling (Jacobs & Bailey. Burn. The studies cited below are briefly summarized using an organizational framework earlier presented by Geller et al. commitment. Gray (1985).

Prompt (both) 4.27 (participation) (treatment e&&s) 4. Written appeal 3..27 d’ = 0. Private commitment (sign a pledge) 1. Written pmmpt (close) Amount of white paper 2. 5>(2+3)>allother treatments Participation in newspaper recycling Participation (Residential households) Participation (Residential households) 1>2 2>1 d’ = 0. Oral commitment 2. Schultz et aZ. Newspaper ad 2.S. Control commitmt?nt intaNarlti01 rls McCaul & Kopp (1982) 1.2. TABLET Studies with behavioral interventions to facilitate recycling Type of intervention* Dependent variablet and participants Amount of newspaper (Apartment residents) (See under Rewatd) Self-reported recycling at the city’s center @. Written prompt + verbal appeal (See under Feedback) 1 > baseline (z = 4. Prompts (flyers) (See under Reward) 1. Survey 2. Information only (See above) 1. Individual commitment 3.31 1 > baseline (volume) 1 N. Control . Newspaper ad + door-to-door brochures 1.esidential households) Drop-off l-2 months & 18 months post intervention measure Curbside l-week treatment Curbside 11-week treatment Curbside B-week treatment Type of Program and duration Special drive 3-week treatment ReSUltSS Prompting interventions Raid et al. written commitment 3. appear in 3.3 (treatment eficts) (See above) 1.36 d = 0. Reward bmlDons) 3. Prompt Self-reported waste (enviroxlmental) reduction 2.S. (1976) Witmer & Geller (1976) Arbuthnot et al. aweek follow-up (See above) Curbside B-week treatment.28 d’ = 0.54 d’= 0. W.3 > 4 (amount) d’ = 0. (198%1990) Goldenhar & Connell (1991-1992) Burn (1991) Austin et al. Prompt (economic) 3.6) 1 N. 1982) Jacobs. Written prompt 2. (1993) Self-reported recycling participation. Written pmmpt (far) recycled (College students and statf~ 1. Bailey. In-person-delivered brochure 2. Personal prompt + proximity of recycling bins 1. Written commitment 2. Pair-wise combinations 5. (1993) deYounget al. Mailed letter 4. commi&mi + lY?Wanls Number of cans recycled (College students) Special drive a-week treatment 1 > baseline Pardini&Katsev (1983-1984) Burn h O&amp (1986) Katzav & Pardini (1987-1988) Participation and amount of materials collected (Residential households) (See above) Weekly participation and smount of newspapers (Residential households) Curbaide 2Aweek treatment. 3-week follow-up 2>1.17 d = 0. Set goal of 4 cans/day 2. Prompt + commitment 4.31 d’ = 0. Public comnli~ent Cnan.18 d’ = 0. Control 1.110 P.11 (See under Block Leader) (See under Block Leader) 1. community recorda on volume of material city-wide (Residential households) Participation (Residential households) (See under Feedback) Curbside. & craws (1984) BumBOslmmp (1986) Viking & Ebreo (1989) 1. Survey + appeal + letter 1. (participation) 2>1 Spaccarelh et al. drop-off two measures over 36-month treatment Curbside 39 week treatment (See under Feedback) (See under Block Leader) Special drive lo-week treatment (See under Feedback) (See under Block Leader) d’ = 0. Community-wide multi-media educational pmgram 1. (1976-1977) Jacobs & Bailey (in Celler et al. Telephone cab 1. Written prompt (door-to-door flyers) 2.50 d = 1.

Reward (contest $15-dorm treasury) 1. (1994) 2. Proximity (See above) Ratio of recycled material to discarded material (Office workers) Amount of newspaper (Mobile home residents) &?t?above) Special drive lo-week treatment Special drive 9. Control Hopper & NeiIsen 1.4 3>4 (amount of paper) d’ = 0. Written commitment (See m&r Feedback) (See unoh Feedback) (See under Feedback) l-week treatment Normative influence interventions NeiIsen L Ehington 1. Self-recorded recycling + reward (See above) Amount of newspaper (Elementary school students) (See above) Special drive X-week treatment 2 > baseline (See above) (Seeabove) (See above) 1>3 2>3 Luyben & Bailey (1979) (See above) 1. (1980-1981) Participation (Residential households) Participation (Residential households) Curbside 5-month treatment Curbside 24month treatment 1>2 d’ d’ d’ d’ = = = = 0. Control Specialdrive 4-week 4-week Special dweek 3-week treatment. (1995) 3. Individual commitment 3. Writen prompt 2. specified goal 3. Block leader 3. Reward (contes& $X-dorm treasuryI Witmer & GeIIer (1976) 1. New block leader + monthly prompt 3.08 Participation (Residential households) Participation (Residential households) Curbside Cmonth treatment Curbside d = 0. Block leader (1983) 2. Study Type of intervention* Dependent variablet and participants Amount of paper (Retirement center residents) Amount of paper and participation (CoIIege students) Type of Program and duration Ilm3lt.47 d = 1. Prompts twice during study 5. Central collection bin 1. Existing block leader (1991) 2.Who F&cycles and When? 111 TABLE2-contd. Wang & Katzev 1.5-week treatment 1 > baseline Reward interventions Geller et al. Group commitment (1990): I Wang & Katzev (1990): II 1. (1977) 1. Control Burn (1991) 1. Group feedback (poster) 2. Reward (retail coupons) 4.25 o-19 0.5weak treatment . Reward (food couponI Amount of white paper recycled (College students) Amount of white paper (College students) Special drive g-week treatment 2>1 3>1 Special drive I-week treaben~ 3-we& follow-up 1 N. Reward (individual rattle) 3.06 McCauI & Kopp (1982) Removing barriers Reid et al. Monthly prompt 4. Separate personal baskets 2.S. Block leader O&amp et al. follow-up drive treatment. Reward (individuaI raffle) 3.39 d’ = 0. follow-up 1 > baseline (treatment and follow-up e&3%) 1>4 2>1. Divided personal baskets 3.58 a=045 (participation) de Young et al. Verbal prompt Hamad et al.a~ Commitment interventions-contd. (1975) 1. Group commitment 2. (1977) 2.16 d’ = -0. (1976) Humphrey et al. Prompts (posters) 2. I>bafdine @nmtment e#&te) 2>1 2>3>1 B>baseIine Amount of newspaper Special drive (Elementary school students) 9.32 0. Control 1. Prompts (postersj 2. Control Goal-setting interventions Hamad et al.

(1984) found the addition of brochures increased curbside participation to a level two to four times that produced by newspaper ads alone. Education (posters) 2.47 (treatment 1 N. l-week follow-up Centralized bin a-month treatment d = 0.1% increase in curbside participation. General group feedback 3. Reward (&Be) (See above) 2 > baseline d’= 0.06 (See above) d’= 0. (1993) found that providing containers in convenient places and delivering written prompts encouraged more people to recycle than using prompts alone. $ Results am for comparisons of intervention conditions unless noted as baseline comparisons. or 50% (depending on the complex). effect) 2 N. Reid et al.) Amount of paper (College students) Amount and quality of newspapers recycled (Apartment complex residents) Special drive B-month treatment Special drive a-week treatment. Info + reward (individual) 2. ‘Rejection-retreaV 4. Foot-in-the-door 5. 60%. Specify group feedback 2. Arbuthnot et al. W. Type of intervention* et al.23 d’ = 0.25 d = 2. that group is listed. feedback Goldenhar & Connell. Prompt 2. Jacobs et al.05 d’ = 0. (19761977) found that prompts delivered as part of the Toot-in-the-door influence technique increased selfreported recycling at community drop-off centers among new residents by 88%. Group feedback (poster on weekly lbs. compared to a 2. 1976) increased college .112 P. Information only 1.25 d = 0. Weekly pickups 6. How does prompting compare with other intervention approaches? Few studies applying a prompting strategy included another strategy for comparison. Control 1. Prompts + proximity + (College students) reward (lottery) 1. Goals + feedback 6. 3 N.11 d’ = 0. For example. compared to less than 10% for each of the prompting strategies alone. Infor = individual reward (lottery) 4. (1989-1990) found that an oral plea along with a written prompt resulted in a 22. Reward (lot&y) Participation 2. * If a study used a control group. and the prompt was typically delivered in writing. A larger group of studies.S. paper collected) 1.06 d’ = 0. Control Self-reported newspaper recycling (College students. Schultz TABLE 2-contd. however. Control (See above) (See above) 1. Prompt (expert) 3. Dependent variablet and participants Type of program and duration Special drive 4-week treatment Curbside 4-month treatment Resultss Reward intmventions-contd. (1976-1977) likewise found prompting and proximity together increased recycling in apartment complexes by lOO%. curbside recycling.S. Feedback (posters) 3.S. Prompts + proximity Number of cans 2. Austin et al. Reward (monev) @tesidentisl households) 3. 1992) or rewards (Witmer & Celler. Infor + reward (group) 3. (1980-1981) Goldenhar & Connell (1991-1992) Katzev & Mishima (1992) de Young et al.4% increase in participation among residents receiving only the written message. These studies (with one exception) agreed that prompting alone is not as effective as other approaches in increasing recycling behavior. Education + Feedback 4. Informational kyers 4. Written commitment 4.11 d’ = 0. (1995) (See above) (See above) (See above) 1. Other studies showed that combining prompts with proximity of the collection bin increased recycling. t Observed behavior unless noted as self-reported behavior. showed enhanced effects of combining different communication approaches. Luyben & Cummin5 (1981-1982) Jacobs & Bailey (1982-1983) Wang t Katzev 1.21 (See above) (1990): II Diamond & Loewy Participation in glass recycling program (College students) Special drive l-week treatment twice during academic year Special drive 25-week treatment Needleman & Geller (1992) Amount of home-generated recyclables delivered to the work site (Office workers) 6 > other 5 conditions Feedback interventions Hamad et al.11 d = 0. Spaccarelli et al.

In these studies. Determining whether prompting can bring about enduring behavior change is difficult. written commitment produced greater increases than oral commitment in curbside participation and amount of recyclables collected (Pardini & Katzev. because most prompting studies used short-term time frames without follow-up measures. oral. and group versus individual commitment (Wang & Katsev. 42% and 42%. Prompting may work better for some types of recycling than others. In contrast. written versus oral commitment (Pardini & Katzev. In the apartment complex study. with four studies including follow-up measures lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. The prompting strategies appeared to increase participation in community drop-off and curbside programs. These findings indicate a potential for long-term effects. individual. Five studies. Five studies. 1990). prompting encouraged sustained participation in curbside and drop-off community programs. although the block leader group participated at a higher rate than the prompting-alone group (average of 28% vs 12%. Vining and Ebreo (19891 reported a continued increase in the volume of materials collected during a 3-year. and the two strategies combined produced similar increases in curbside participation (39%. Commitment interventions Commitment interventions are based on the principle that people become resistant to pressures to change their actions after making a decision to behave in a certain way (Oskamp. the longest treatment period was 6 weeks and the longest follow-up period only 4 weeks. written. both block leaders and prompting increased participation in curbside recycling in Burn’s (1991) study. 1990). commitment. results of the interventions were reported across all participants. In most studies. however. but not in the one study conducted in college dorms (Witmer & Geller. Burn and Oskamp (1986) found that prompting. One major limitation of all these studies is the lack of consideration of the individual characteristics of recipients of the promptsIn all studies reviewed here. incorporated other interventions for comparison. in which particpants were told that their names would appear in the college newspaper (McCaul & Kopp. group)? Two studies actually compared various commitment approaches with each other. on the other hand. Most studies measured household recycling in community curbside or drop-off programs. 1991). and individual commitment yielded more participation than group commitment in a special recycling drive on a college campus (Wang & Katzev. Burn (1991) found that the increase in curbside recycling still remained 12 weeks later. the effects of prompts alone could not be disentangled from proximity effects (distance to the recycling bin area). (1976-1977) noted that the increased number of new recyclers continued 18 months following the implementation of the footin-the-door technique. Two of the three studies of special drives in college settings were the only studies not to show a positive effect of prompting on recycling.Who Recycles and When? 113 students’ recycling in special dormitory recycling drives. however. After the seven studies. on follow-up measures) than prompting or . commitment was initiated by requesting the research participant to sign a pledge or a statement. 19821. commitment tended to produce longer lasting effects (i. in which participants were asked in person if they would participate in the recycling drive (Wang & Katzev. and the effects were further confounded by increased bin capacity. commitment produced increases in both curbside and special drive participation-not only during treatment. 19821. whereas prompting had no significant effect. Generally. and Spaccarelli et al. respectively). 1976). including public versus private commitment (McCaul & Kopp. and two of these employed separate treatment and follow-up periods. The two exceptions were (1) a public commitment condition. Is there a difference among the types of conunitment (e. measured recycling over a period of four months or longer. 198319841. except for one study conducted in apartment complexes and three studies conducted with college students or staff. it seems likely that people with more knowledge or environmental concern would be more strongly affected by prompts than would participants low on these variables. Seven studies have investigated the effects of commitment on recycling behavior. however. This short-term nature of all the commitment strategy investigations precludes the ability to make statements with confidence about enduring effects of commitment on recycling behavior.e.g. In general. Treatment generally lasted 2 to 6 weeks. and (2) an individual commitment condition. multi-media community campaign. prompting interventions may be more effective with people who already have a favorable attitude toward recycling. 1983-19841. 1990). In these. but also during follow-up. respectively). and Arbuthnot et al. (1989-1990) showed a sustained increase in curbside recycling participation over 39 weeks.

The successful use of social pressure to induce recycling may be largely contingent upon the extent to which residents see themselves as part of the community. If the changes in behavior are due solely to the social pressure of being observed. the block leader approach has two potential sources of influence: information and personal contact. One social psychological strategy is to enlist community members to model recycling behavior and to persuade their nonrecycling neighbors to participate in the recycling program. Although the block leader approach has yet to be thoroughly assessed. but there was no significant difference between commitment and prompting as noted in Pardini and Katzev’s study. W. . or travel). as compared to 11. All of these studies reported the effectiveness of commitments in terms of participation in a community recycling program. As a naturally occuming example. Because the commitment studies lasted only between two and eight weeks. Burn (1991) and Hopper and Nielsen (1991) found similar positive results. Pardini and Katzev (1983-1984) found oral and written commitment groups recycled more newspaper and had higher curbside participation rates than the information-only group during both the intervention and follow-up periods.g. Furthermore. A competing explanation for the effectiveness of commitment interventions is that the changes are due to social pressure. or of the amount of material collected. This may imply that the change in behavior will be short-lived. block leaders may be effective because they serve as initiators of social norms within their neighborhoods. The effects of both interventions did not diminish over the 12-week post-treatment period. As suggested earlier. Even when socioeconomic status and stability of neighborhood were held constant. Burn ( 1991) observed that block leader neighborhoods participated significantly more in curbside recycling. Four studies have experimentally examined the effects of social influence on recycling behavior. The desire for social recognition may motivate nonrecycling neighbors to begin recycling. An interesting question is whether this change in behavior is internalized. As with the previously discussed interventions. Nielsen and Ellington (1983) found a 26-W weekly curbside participation rate over 5 months among blocks with an identifiable recycling leader. Two studies examined the effects of personal contact over information alone. Normative influence The use of social norms to encourage recycling behavior is a relatively new approach. residents who perceived themselves as part of the community may be more affected by this intervention than residents who feel isolated or alienated. conclusions about long-term changes in behavior cannot be made from these studies. Oskamp et al. For example. and that it will not generalize to other recycling settings that are less visible (e. studies conducted on social norms failed to consider any characteristics of the community. and this behavior may in turn be reinforced through social approval. school. rewards. then they have not been internalized. Oskamp et al. For example. (1991) reported that participation in a curb side program was higher for people whose friends and neighbors recycled. frequency of participation. (1994) found no significant difference in the amount of recycled material. (58% of households recycled at least once during post-treatment) than the group receiving information left at the door (38% recycled at least once). which in turn could initiate recycling behavior. or degree of contamination of the material recycled when a previously established block leader area was compared with that in a similar socio-economic area that did not have block leaders. although the findings of Oskamp et al. results indicated that participation rates in blocks with block leaders were consistently higher than in blocks without leaders. In sum. Personal contact by the block leader may also prompt public commitment. Schultz et al. it appears to have the potential to produce longterm changes in recycling behavior. Hopper and Nielsen (1991) found similar results. It seems likely that rural residents may be more affected by social norms than residents of an urban community. (1994) suggest that the strategy may not always work. These studies (with one exception) indicated that using peer support to establish community recycling norms can increase and sustain recycling behavior. Burn and Oskamp (1986) found commitment increased recycling 42% over baseline. work. In contrast. the use of volunteer block leaders in neighborhoods presents a cost-effective intervention for communities. However. Both of these variables are socially visible-putting the bin at the curb to be recycled may make both the participation and the amount of materials observable to other residents.114 P. and likewise home owners may be more affected than renters and apartment dwellers. Pardini and Katzev (1983-1984) suggested that commitment strategies may work because people who make such pledges move beyond the external justification for recycling (signing or stating a pledge) and 6nd their own additional reasons for recycling.5% participation in blocks without a designated leader.

One limitation of research on proximity is the short-term duration of studies. For example. may motivate efforts toward common goals. The schedule of collection may also affect recycling participation. Collection method. From an administrative perspective. Folz (1991) examined differences between communities with a curbside collection program and ones using a drop-off location. Distance. His analysis revealed a large significant difference in estimated participation rates. the use of a central collection location adds personal costs of extra time and effort involved in the transportation of recyclabales to the collection center.. However. Recycling was measured over periods ranging from 3 weeks in Reid et al. 1979). In his correlational study of community recycling programs. proximity to a voluntary recycling drop-off center was signScantly positively related to participation in the program. they consistently indicated that the closer participants are to the collection center. however. These studies both found significant effects in increasing the amount of materials collected in special recycling drives at an elementary school (Hamad et al. 1977). 1979). It seems likely that participation in recycling programs would be higher if both recyclables and other refuse were collected on the same day. Communities with vuluntary curbside collection had an estimated 49% participation rate. this reduces the cost of the program. this finding combined reports on mandatory and voluntary programs and had other possible confounding factors. and since both studies used special populations. This finding suggests that removing the need to transport materials to a central location can increase participation rates. required A third barrier to recycling is the effort to sort materials. 1977. Witmer and Geller (1976) reported that students whose dorm rooms were closest to the collection center showed the highest level of participation in a paper recycling program. Luyben and Bailey (1979) found a 47% average increase in drop-off recyling participation in a mobile . 1976. 1991). and at frequent intervals. Folz (1991) found that cities which established a goal to recycle a specific proportion of the waste stream reported significantly higher levels of citizen participation in municipal recycling programs than cities which did not establish a goal. While these studies are few in number. From the participants’ perspective. Simply stated. However. 1982). One of the most direct. ways to increase recycling behavior is the removal of barriers to recycling. the persistence of behavior change was not tested. Three studies have experimentally examined the effect of increased bin proximity on recycling participation (Reid et al. Students who spend many hours of the week together may develop a sense of cohesiveness that. (1977). Sorting. Several other studies reporting nonexperimental findings support the claim that proximity to a collection center positively affects recycling. may be a more difficult task. These additional bins increased each resident’s proximity to a bin and thus reduced the extra costs of transporting materials. and sorting of recyclable materials. this strategy attempts to reduce response costs by minimizing the amount of effort required to recycle. 1980-1981) and a college (McCaul & Kopp. Making goals salient and important to members of larger groups. compared to 25% for communities with drop-off collection.. the more likely they are to recycle. Removing barriers to recycling home park following the placement of six additional bins throughout each park. but often overlooked.. Three barriers to recycling have been studied: distance of the collection location from the participant. Only two studies have experimentally assessed the effect of goal-setting on recycling. The single reported study on this topic found that cities with same-day pick-up of recyclables and other refuse did not report higher participation rates in recycling programs than cities with different-day collection schedules (Folz. questions remain regarding the generalizability of the results to community residents. in turn. and in some cases the collection day for recyclables and for other refuse does not coincide. a strength of this research is that proximity was shown to work in a variety of situations-apartment complexes (Reid et al.Who Recycles and When? 115 Goal-setting Coal-setting involves the specification of a set target of material to be reycled. Cummings (1977) found that among 432 New York City residents. A second barrier to recycling among home owners is the collection method. (1976) to a high of 10 weeks in Humphrey et al. Asking participants to All recycling programs involve effort on the part of the participant. On the other hand. Humphrey et al. method of collection. mobile home parks (Luyben & Bailey. Most older recycling programs involved depositing materials in a central location. Luyben & Bailey. Curbside recycling programs collect recyclable materials on a fnted schedule.. 19761. and offices (Humphrey et al. such as communities.

and individual rewards typically produced larger increases in recycling behaviors than did group rewards. 19911. prompts. The majority of empirical studies in this recycling area. In contrast. Situational Factors-Consequence Variables Any intervention that attempts to modify recycling behavior by presenting a consequence (i. First. or a punishment) contingent upon the behavior is classified as employing a consequence strategy. for after termination of a reward program. there was no difference in the estimated average participation rates for programs that required separation and those that did not. make generalization of its findings questionable. The materials are then collected and sorted at a materials recovery facility. sort recyclable8 into different bins is common in home recycling programs.g. Commitment. 1990). W. Third. Several clear limitations. exist in the literature. goals. almost all reported studies have employed single measures of recycling. they may find themselves separating those materials into numerous bins. however. All eight studies found that offering rewards (e. First. 1975.116 P. Second. 19921. information (Diamond & Loewy. and group commitment Wang & Katzev. the research data regarding antecedent intervention techniques indicate that many types of interventions have been successful in increasing recycling behavior for the duration of the intervention.. Needleman & Geller.g. however. the change in behavior produced by reward programs was short-lived. apartment complexes have up to seven different bins in which to place different materials. which suggests that external contingencies or rewards will make a behavior more appealing and induce behavior change (Geller. and contamination). because six weeks is the longest follow-up period over which its effects have been demonstrated. goal setting combined with feedback (Needleman & Geller. This recycling method requires less effort by the participant. interventions may have differential effects on different recycling variables (e. No reported study has assessed the effect of punishment on recycling (probably for ethical reasons). 19911. They found that over 90% of the households participated in the program at least once in five consecutive occasion-an amazingly high figure-whereas earlier. money. or lottery tickets) significantly increased the amont of material people will recycle. For example. both mandatory and voluntary. As was pointed out above. but the length of time that commitment affects recycling is unclear. Gamba and Oskamp (1994) examined household participation rates in a city-wide commingled curbside recycling program. In some German cities. Written personal commitment apparently increases recycling for a longer period of time than do extrinsic rewards. However. despite the potential of reward interventions. Summary In sum. using both mechanical and manual techniques. a reward. As De Young (1993) emphasized. Comparisons of reward intervention with other interventions suggests that rewards can produce larger changes in behavior. Folz’s (1991) correlational study across 264 cities concluded that requiring separation does not significantly decrease participation in recycling programs. An alternative to having participants sort their recyclable8 is to use commingled recycling. in which participants place all recyclables mixed together in a single collection bin. coupons. rewards have been found to produce larger changes than prompting (Geller et al. As participants begin to recycle more types of materials. less than 40% of city residents were estimated to take part. in a voluntary separated recycling program. frequency of participation. and the removal of barriers all can produce significant increases in recycling behavior. The many other uncontrolled differences among cities in his study.e. examined the effects of rewards. Schultz et al. feedback of information. In his analysis of municipal recycling programs. norms. recycling behavior typically returned to baseline levels (cf. Rewards Eight studies directly tested the effect of rewards on recycling behavior (see Table 2). for example. 1987). the durability of program effects is a crucial issue for research intended to be relevant to public policy issues. This strategy is based on learning theory. chances to win lottery prizes generally had stronger effects than did small cash payments. amount. The incentives used in these studies may not have facilitated long-term behavior change for . there are several drawbacks. 1989). however. the persisting effects of these strategies remain largely untested. Furthermore. Clearly the topic of separation requires further research. the relative effectiveness of different antecedent interventions has yet to be assessed. It seems likely that these interventions are more effective with people who already have favorable attitudes toward recycling. Katzev & Johnson.

Discussion Over the past 20 years.g. when thermostats are combined with meters that indicate energy consumption rates. 1980-1981. the imposition of external motivators may have masked or reduced internal benefits derived from recycling behavior. two unanswered questions are evident. and that the changes in recycling behavior do not generalize to other materials. whose behavior is changing? Studies reviewed above on specific attitudes found nonrecyclers to be more concerned with financial issues than recyclers. The study by De Young et aZ. The two studies that reported a significant effect were conducted in the 1990s with college students. Secondly. (1980-1981) failed to find a significant change in behavior. 1981). newspaper). Feedback Another important aspect of consequences is the effect of feedback strategies on recycling. 1977. However. Another issue concerning reward interventions is the extent to which behavior change produced for rewards of one material (e. Clearly more research is needed on the effects of feedback on recycling. or quality of recycled material. Employees were rewarded with an entry into a drawing each time they returned aluminum cans for recycling. The studies reported by De Young et al. Lepper & Greene. outweighed the attraction of the reward. the rewards may have lost some of their novelty as time passed. A definitive answer to this question is d3Ecu. such as time and effort.g. this poses the problem of developing attractive incentives for diverse groups of people. Needleman and Geller (1992) examined this issue in their study of recycling at a worksite setting.g. and participants may have found that other factors. The desire to change is a strong mediating variable in the effectiveness of feedback interventions. and the study by Hamad et al. typically by amounts in the lo%-15% range (Se&man & Darley. people must be able to identify a relationship between their behavior and the feedback. glass). Katzev & Mishima. newspaper. Results showed that there was a significant increase in the amount of aluminum cans recycled. whereas Katzev and Mishima (1992) and Goldenhar and Connell (1991-1992) did find a signif&. several criteria must be met. Although rewards appear to provide powerful short-term changes in recycling.h given the current state of the literature. despite the success of the feedback technique in other arenas. First. different results might have been obtained. De Young et al.. was conducted on a sample of apartment residents. only single assessments of recycling have been studied in this literature. the rewards may not have been meaningful to all particpants or substantial enough to catch participants’ interest. feedback is not effective in changing behavior if the person has no desire to change.. First. However. the cost of supplying rewards and organizing their advertisement and distribution often outweighs the economic benefits of recycling. This finding suggests that reward interventions are only effective in increasing behavior related to the specific material targeted with the reward. rather than amount. First. (1995) and Hamad et al. educated. if the rewards had been offered for frequency of participation. the individual must be interested in change.Who Recycles and When? 117 several reasons. or set of interventions. 1975). It seems likely that the feedback interventions were effective because the college student participants in the study were interested in change. (1981) suggested that in order for feedback to be successful. Goldenhar & Connell. As the solid waste crisis continues to escalate. Second. and higher SES than average. which was the rewarded behavior. Se&-man et al. Third. Presenting people with feedback about their behavior has been successful in decreasing energy and water consumption. social scientists have attempted to identify effective techniques to encourage recycling. as in the social psychological research literature on overjustification effects (e. only four studies have directly assessed its effectiveness in increasing recycling (Hamad et al. people can observe the effects of their behavior. produce the best results.& increase in recycling. aluminum cans) will generalize to other materials (e. Policy-makers and community leaders are asking social scientists which intervention. Seligman et al. as with all previously reviewed studies. who are in general more liberal. city and county officials are experiencing greater pressure to find ways to sustain a high level of waste diversion.. This requirement is met most effectively by providing immediate feedback. Furthermore. 1992. 1995). Second. This finding leads to the hypothesis that offering rewards will be more effective with people who are not currently recycling. Most of the eight studies examined the amount of material collected. was conducted in the early 1980 on school children-both groups being qualitatively different from college students. 1991-1992.g. but no increases for other materials (e. Although . For example.

Using separate groups for each intervention allows comparisons across conditions. what type of person recycles.g. the usability and value of the collected material decreases. on randomly assigned groups. is beginning to emerge. litter reduction. several clear limitations need to be addressed. informational ones) may decrease the amount of contamination. more than one intervention is often applied to the same sample. water conservation. For example.. usually either the percentage of participants in the recycling program (new or continuing) or the amount of material collected. interactions between person and situational variables. plastic. 1981. The idea that the type of intervention should be selected based on the desired outcome and the characteristics of the target population is an integral part of social marketing concepts (Bloom & Novelli. and purchasing environmentally safe products) have often assumed that. According to Geller (1989). social scientists will be asked how to produce long-term participation in recycling programs (De Young. nearly all empirical investigations of recycling interventions have measured a single dependent variable. or the amount of material collected. people who show a propensity for performing one proenvironmental behavior . That is.118 P. It is implicitly assumed that both personal and situational variables found to predict recycling of one material will generalize to the recycling of another material. W. A fifth limitation of the current research is the unknown extent to which recycling one material predicts recycling of another (i. on the other hand. Investigations of recycling behavior to date have examined the recycling of only one material. Many other potential interactions have been mentioned throughout this review. different recycling interventions may affect different aspects of recycling. recycling makes them feel they are helping to protect the environment (Simmons & Widmar. energy conservation. As the percentage of nonrecyclable material collected in the recycling program (termed contumination) increases. glass. do not have this internal motivation. this technique ‘provides a basis for selecting target markets and developing optimal promotional programs for individual target segments’ (p. This assumption is. providing people with rewards for recycling may be more effective in increasing recycling among people low in environmental concern than among those high in environmental concern. People low in environmental concern. for the most part. For instance. response generalization).g. or what conditions are associated with more recycling. Only one study has examined all three dependent variables. some prompting interventions (i. people who recycle white paper are generally assumed to be more likely to recycle aluminium cans. Overall. That is. 1990). Third. Investigators of proenvironmental behaviors (e. External incentives to recycle might provide them with a motive and cause an increase in recycling. and it found different effects for each variable (Oskamp et al. 1994). Geller. The next step for recycling research is to examine the differential effects of intervention strategies on various types of people. i. Such studies attempt to identify main effects: e. As recycling programs become more prominent. First. and then by a second intervention. Fourth. the answer concerning which intervention is the best depends largely on the desired outcome of the intervention.e. Recycling behavior is ordinarily measured as the amount of newspaper.e. Using this method precludes the collection of follow-up data. or metal cans returned for recycling. in part. Schultz et uZ. 1989). What we have advocated here as an interactional approach to research has also been described as ‘market segmentation’. and when. 1993).e. recycling. A third potential variable is the quality of the collected material. Second. an understanding of who recycles. partitioning a potential market for the product (the intervention) into homogeneous subgroups based on common characteristics. future research should examine the extended effects of various intervention strategies. many studies ex amining situational variables have measured behavior changes against a baseline. but be ineffective at increasing either the number of recyclers. To date. 28). a reflection of the more general belief held by many researchers about the relationship among different proenvironmental behaviors. or of several materials combined-but not differential rates of recycling for different materials. the effectiveness of different interventions may depend largely on characteristics of the community in which the program is instituted. empirical investigations of recycling interventions to date have explored either personal OF situational variables. People who are concerned for the environment are motivated to recycle for internal reasons. Research should look for interactions between the type of recycling program and characteristics of the individual-that is. white paper. and also allows for follow-up measures of each intervention. followed by a second baseline period. This question is best answered by examining the effects of two or more interventions over an extended period of time.

The authors concluded ‘generalizations from one specific proenvironmental behavior to other forms of behavior may be inappropriate’ (p. (1990). In order for recycling programs to be an effective way to reduce the amount of trash we generate. In contrast. 1. 16. Social psychology and the stimulation of recycling behaviors: the block leader approach. (1986). EnvironmentaI politics: The structuring of partisan and ideological cleavages in mass environmental concern. I. (1991). S. rewards. 26. L Fishbein.Who Recycles and When? 119 are likely to show a similar propensity for another. However.. group feedback. R. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 6. it involves performing such actions on a consistent basis across situations. (1990). resolving the solid waste crisis involves more than simply implementing community recycling programs. Their analysis failed to reveal a consistent pattern of predictors for the four behaviors. Commoner. S. & Francis. Journal of Environmental Systems.. 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