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Willingness to engage in a pro-environmental behavior: An analysis of e-waste recycling based on a national survey of U.S. households

Saphores, Jean-Daniel M., Ogunseitan, Oladele A., Shapiro, Andrew A.
Resources, conservation, and recycling 2012 v.60 pp. 49-63
data collection, education, electronic wastes, gender, households, income, logit analysis, marital status, models, national surveys, nationalities and ethnic groups, psychology, recycling, sociodemographic characteristics, toxicity, United States
Using concepts from environmental psychology and economics, we investigate U.S. households’ willingness to engage in a form of pro-environmental behavior: recycling electronic waste (e-waste) at drop-off locations. We rely on rich dataset from a 2006 national survey of U.S. households (N=2136). Our internal variables include a modified version of the New Ecological Paradigm scale, a moral norm scale based on Schwartz's norm-activation model, and indicators of social pressure for recycling. External variables consist of detailed socio-demographic characteristics. Our logit model shows that external variables do not help characterizing people with e-waste recycling experience, except that they tend to have larger families or to be over 60 years old. However, knowing that e-waste contains potentially toxic materials, recycling conventional materials at work or at school, and especially having strong moral norms helps explain e-waste recycling behavior. Using a generalized ordered logit model, we then show that the most important variables for explaining household willingness to recycle e-waste are internal variables, followed by recycling convenience, knowledge of the potential toxicity of e-waste, prior e-waste recycling experience, as well as gender and marital status; education, age, and ethnicity play only a minor role, while knowledge of e-waste laws, availability of curbside recycling for domestic waste, and income are not statistically significant. Our results suggest that e-waste recycling can be stimulated by promoting moral norms, educating the public about the benefits of recycling e-waste, and making e-waste recycling more convenient but other measures will likely be necessary to tackle the e-waste problem.