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Title: The importance of determining factors affecting household recycling participation and efficiency levels
Author: Perrin, Darren
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2002
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New mandatory recycling targets within the UK present a serious challenge to local authorities. 9 out of 10 people claim to recycle within the UK, yet the recycling rate remains at c.10%, well short of the necessary levels required. Fully understanding how to convert households attitudes and opinions into efficient participatory behaviour, within what still remains a voluntary activity, is essential if targets are to be met at an 'affordable' economic and environmental cost. Best practice for local authorities in relation to developing kerbside recycling schemes is currently developed on a basis of previous experience within other authorities, i.e. 'it was successful there, so it should be successful here', rather than understanding the reasons for a given success or failure. Although previous research has highlighted a series of drivers / barriers to recycling and a schemes success / failure, monitoring these relationships collectively during the same spatial and temporal conditions is rarely undertaken. Understanding the issues involved with 'Best Guidance' for local authorities, not only requires the drivers and barriers to household's recycling behaviour to be understood, recognition of the relative importance and interaction between these issues, More importantly, local authorities need to recognise those that are within the authority control. This research has monitored in detail three separate kerbside recycling schemes that vary in their demands on both the householder to participate, and the cost to the scheme provider to implement and maintain. Household's attitudes and claimed / actual recycling behaviour were monitored both before and after their introduction in an attempt to identify the relative affect and interaction of factors determining recycling participation and participation efficiency. Collected data is supported by secondary data sets from other nationally reported research projects. The research has identified a series of relationships and behavioural patterns supported by both quantitative and qualitative data sources in relation to each of the kerbside recycling schemes monitored, and those most commonly used within the UK. Determining factors have been classified into four categories (I. the material, 2. scheme maintenance, 3. scheme design and 4. the individual). A model has been created that has ranked these factors in relation to their effect on determining participation and recovery levels, supported by a thorough understanding of the issues involved. A further self-calibrated model has been developed predicting diversion levels at a scheme or district level. Some main findings of the project are as follows: ~ The inconvenience that the 'material itself' presents to the householder to recycle it, is the most important factor effecting recycling levels. An imaginary scale in response to 5 hypothetical questions identifies the most likely recovery efficiency of a particular material as a result of conditions within the home independent of the other three categories. ~ Material recovery levels fall into 3 distinct categories, determined initially in order of the materials product type, recognised as media, beverage, then food, followed by the materials type, e.g. glass, metal, then plastic, regardless of the other three categories. ~ Expected recovery ratios 00 kerbside recycling schemes normalised against newspapers have been suggested e.g. c.0.9 (glass bottles), c.0.7 (drink cans), c. 0.6 (plastic bottles), c.0.4 (food cans) etc. ~ Clear, effective communication and scheme mainteranoe, i.e. feedback, maintains high participation and increases materials recovery, especially for the packaging fractions. ~ The scheme design affects both participation levels and participation efficiency for specific materials. A convenient system is required to achieve high levels of either. ~ Positive attitudes are not necessarily a pre-determinant of recycling behaviour and are not influenced by a schemes design. Specific attitudes are similar for recyclers and 110nrecyclers. ~ Differences between claimed and monitored behaviour in relation to participation, set-out and materials recovery were observed.
Supervisor: Barton, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available