Household waste recycling in the UK and the Netherlands : a comparative study of Sheffield and Amsterdam
Waste and its management is a dynamic subject that has far reaching implications. These extend beyond basic practical issues of producer responsibility and consumer behaviour, and encompass pollution and environmental problems in a global context. Economic concerns, such as scarcity of resources and the emergence of environmental issues such as sustainability, have influenced the need for a waste management strategy that will increase material re-use and recycling, and energy recovery. Increasing quantities of waste and changes in its composition have placed an ever increasing pressure on traditional disposal routes, namely landfill, giving impetus to the development of alternative management options. The emphasis on management through a waste hierarchy has resulted in a trend throughout Europe of striving towards numerical targets to induce movement away from landfill. In 1990 the UK government set a target of recycling 25% of household waste by the year 2000. The Dutch have set a general waste target to separate 65% of waste for recycling, by the year 2000. Currently, achievement of the UK target is unlikely. Explanations for this do not stem from the target being too high, as it has been illustrated in Europe and more specifically in the Netherlands, that more stringent targets are already being attained. Therefore this research is of importance in developing a greater understanding of the barriers and alternative policy incentives that exist in achieving materials reclamation and energy recovery, and aims to contribute to the development of suitable policies and strategic options. Previous research has focused on specific aspects or singular concepts within the field of waste management. Although this has proved useful in specific contexts, the results and applications have been limited. This research extends such experience further in developing a model that can link the barriers that exist with regard to the 'successful' implementation of waste management strategies. This model focuses on evaluating data gained from the case study, having identified causal relationships and underlying pressures. It introduces a way of relating national data with local data, and it is at this interface that the 'success' of a waste management strategy can be determined, or barriers to its application can be identified and policies developed to overcome such barriers. The research design has been developed within the framework of a comparative embedded case study. The methodology enables a fuller understanding of the current situation at national, regional and local level, incorporating a number of different data collection techniques. The selection of Sheffield and Amsterdam allows a greater focus on crosscultural issues with specific reference to environmental awareness, recycling behaviour and implementation strategies within each local political framework. These results can then be placed within the context of the model to identify the feasibility of policy targets, and propose modifications to the policy or strategic options available.