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Appears in Collections:Economics eTheses
Title: Household Cooperation in Waste Management: Preferences, Incentives and Promotion
Author(s): Briguglio, Marie
Supervisor(s): Delaney, Liam
Hanley, Nicholas
Wood, Alex M
Keywords: voluntary
Issue Date: 15-Dec-2014
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Few environmental problems exemplify market-failure better than municipal solid waste does: A direct by-product of economic production and consumption, its collection and disposal (still mainly at landfills, in many countries) incurs high capital and running costs, creates environmental and health impacts and, in European Union countries, risks incurring heavy financial penalties. The main remedy proposed in environmental economics is a marginal tax on the disposal of mixed household waste, intended to incentivise its reduction and separation for recycling. But taxes are politically unpopular, expensive to administer and generate variable response − sometimes stimulating illegal disposal of waste instead of its reduction. Taxes also risk undermining the moral benefits people seem to enjoy from cooperating voluntarily. Inducing voluntary cooperation could cultivate moral motives and generate cooperation, but this has received less attention in environmental economics to date. The aim of this thesis is to examine the determinants of cooperation by households in waste management activities, investigating the role that government policy can play in stimulating it, and focusing on the role of price incentives and of scheme promotion. Chapter 1 introduces the issue of waste management as an economic problem, and the role of household cooperation as a promising solution. Chapter 2 surveys the literature on the topic of what determines household cooperation in waste management and identifies the key gaps which the thesis seeks to address. Three manuscripts are presented in Chapters 3, 4 and 5, each of which examines a distinct question on the determinants of household cooperation in waste management. Chapter 6 concludes with a synthesis of main findings, key policy cues and suggestions for future research. The first manuscript titled “Voluntary recycling despite financial disincentives” employs a unique merged panel data set (n = 4,644) using data from 58 localities over 86 weeks to assess the determinants of participation in a voluntary waste separation scheme in Malta. The two manuscripts that follow are based on a nationally-representative telephone survey (n = 1,037), containing two embedded experiments, and conducted during 2013, in Malta, for this thesis. Manuscript 2 titled “Partisanship, priming and participation in voluntary recycling” tests whether party identification, as distinct from environmental or political ideology, can act as a determinant of participation in a recycling scheme, particularly if the scheme is promoted in a manner that associates it with the party in government. Manuscript 3 titled “The impact of a Pay as You Throw tax level and label on home-composting” examines the potential of a Pay As You Throw (PAYT) tax, and of its labelling, to induce substitution of biodegradable waste away from mixed kerb-side disposal and into home-composting. It also examines the prospect that this type of intervention stimulates illegal disposal. Synthesising the results of three studies, the thesis finds that: 1. The type of households most likely to cooperate in waste management schemes are multiple-person ones facing lower constraints of space and time, where members hold pro-environmental preferences. This confirms findings of similar studies in other contexts, helps forecast uptake and may guide the design and promotion of schemes to target low-lying fruit and tackle relevant constraints. 2. Driven mainly by moral motives, households are willing to recycle voluntarily even if it is less convenientc e than disposing of un-separated waste, and they are willing to pay for it. This is a useful finding for municipalities with low budgets, unable to institute taxes or fearing illegal disposal as a reaction. 3. Political preferences are relevant to recycling: Where negative sentiment towards the party in government exists, (even subtle cues) promoting the scheme as a government scheme and associating it with the party in government can suppress participation. Decoupling political communication from scheme promotion can release more households into cooperative effort. 4. Responses to waste taxes are not just a matter of price level but also of tax salience: A tax label can significantly increase waste separation and home-composting but it also boosts higher illegal-disposal intent. The way a fee is labelled therefore itself forms part of the intervention tool-kit, meriting pre-testing and capable of manipulation. These findings make a marginal contribution to gaps in the environmental economics literature by integrating insights from psychology. They are also intended to offer simple and applicable ideas to policy-makers and to scheme-operators aiming to increase household cooperation in waste management.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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