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Determinants of Recycling Behaviour: A Synthesis of Research Results

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Socio-Economics, Volume 24, Number 1, p.105-127 (1995)



This article classifies variables affecting consumer recycling behavior into four theoretical groups: intrinsic incentives, extrinsic incentives, internal facilitators, and external facilitators. These clusters of variables, taken from 67 empirical studies culled from published and unpublished research, were metanalyzed. Of these sets of variables, the strongest predictors of recycling are internal facilitators: specifically, consumer knowledge and commitment to recycling best predicts propensity to recycle. External incentives-in particular, monetary rewards and social influence-are the next best predictors. One external facilitator that significantly relates to recycling is frequency of collection. Finally, these relationships are further examined to isolate the impact of moderator variables. Three variables are shown to have some moderating effects: sample size, when the study was done, and mode of data collection. Based on the results, the authors propose a model and provide practical implications for motivating consumer participation in waste separation programs.