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The economy of E-waste collection at the individual level: A practice oriented approach of categorizing determinants of E-waste collection into behavioral costs and motivation

Otto, Siegmar, Kibbe, Alexandra, Henn, Laura, Hentschke, Liane, Kaiser, Florian G.
Journal of cleaner production 2018 v.204 pp. 33-40
containers, electronic wastes, field experimentation, motivation, recycling, social behavior
In order to foster e-waste recycling, it is necessary to identify the factors that affect consumers' recycling of e-waste and to determine the degree to which these factors influence recycling behavior. We propose that environmental motivation and behavioral costs are the two determinants of e-waste recycling, but only behavioral costs can be manipulated effectively in the short term. We conducted two field trails and tested the effects of direct approaches (i.e., structural improvements such as curbside collection and deposit containers) and indirect approaches (i.e., material and social enticements) that were designed to reduce behavioral costs. Results showed that the direct approach led to more than a 14-fold increase in e-waste recycling compared to the control condition. This effect increased even further in the second field trial in which behavioral costs were indirectly decreased through a combination of social enticements that addressed social norms, group identity, and social commitment. These findings show that expensive structural improvements (e.g., setting up deposit containers for e-waste) can be outperformed by e-waste collection campaigns that address social motives.