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Promoting positive environmental behaviours through community interventions: A case study of waste minimisation

Report: TR 2002/13
Author: Linda D Cameron for the Community and Economy Programme, Waikato Regional Council


This report reviews social science research on waste minimisation with a focus on household solid waste in urban and rural communities. In particular, this review focuses on the social factors influencing the adoption of recycling, re-use, composting, and green purchasing. This report constitutes first three stages of a seven-stage social research conducted by Waikato Regional Council. These stages are to evaluate:
1. Social factors affecting adoption of waste minimisation householders
2. Programme design: Identifying the key components strategies and programme designs most likely to lead behaviour change
3. Programme evaluation: Identifying how waste programmes are evaluated and monitored
4. Actual behaviour: What is already known about waste minimisation behaviour?
5. The role of consumer behaviour in promoting minimisation
6. Equity issues in the use of economic instruments
7. The level of public support for waste minimisation

In this report of the first three stages, emphasis is given to reviewing the literature in light of the implications for developing waste minimisation programmes in the Waikato region. Attention is also given to identifying information and issues in need of further research. It should be noted the focus of this research project is on household behaviour, and it does not address waste behaviour by businesses and organisations. Stage I provides a framework for understanding waste behaviour and the social factors influencing the adoption and maintenance of recycling, re-use, composting, and green purchasing. In addition, this section reviews international evidence regarding current of recycling, re-use, composting, and green purchasing, with particular attention to predictors and barriers of these behaviours. Stage II addresses research developments regarding strategies for designing effective programmes for increasing waste minimisation behaviours of community residents. Stage III reviews curent methods and indicators for evaluations of waste minimisation programmes.

Promoting positive environmental behaviours through community interventions: a case study of waste minimisation
(448 kb, 64 seconds to download, 56k modem) 

Table of Contents

Executive Summary V
Introduction 1
1 What are the social factors affecting adoption of waste minimisation by householders? 2
  1.1 A Model of Environmental Behaviour 2
  1.2 The Traditional Focus on Changing Attitudes 3
  1.3 Intervening at the Levels of Social Values and Worldviews 4
  1.4 Fostering the Adoption of Social Values, Worldviews, and Attitudes that are Conducive to Waste Minimisation 5
  1.5 Maintaining Waste Minimisation Behaviour 7
  1.6 Waste Minimisation Internationally and in New Zealand: Findings on Behaviour, Barriers, and Predictors of Waste Minimisation Efforts 8
  1.7 Rates of Waste Minimisation Behaviour 8
    1.7.1 Recycling 8
    1.7.2 Re-use 10
    1.7.3 Composting 10
    1.7.4 Green purchasing 10
  1.8 Reported Predictors and Barriers 11
    1.8.1 Recycling 11
    1.8.2 Composting 12
  1.9 Summary 13
2 Programme Design 14
  2.1 General Principles 14
  2.2 Community-Based Social Marketing 14
  2.3 Evaluations of New Zealand Waste Minimisation Interventions 16
  2.4 Issues Relating To Specific Types of Interventions 18
  2.5 Summary 24
3 Programme evaluation 26
  3.1 Common Methods of Programme Evaluation 26
  3.2 Evaluation Designs 29
  3.3 Commonly Used Indicators in Evaluations of Community-Based Waste Minimisation Programmes 30
  3.4 Conclusion 32
4 References 34
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