Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Consumers in a Circular Economy: Socioeconomic Analysis of Household Waste Sorting Behaviour

Project: Research

  • University of Copenhagen
See relations at Aarhus University


Despite the growing knowledge and interest in circular economy, much of the research efforts to date have been approached from an environmental engineering system perspective. Research into the behavioural aspect such as economic analyses that quantitatively assess the role of consumer choices in the realization of increased recycling remain scant. Research insights on these subjects can provide inputs into the development of policy interventions to influence consumers’ behaviour to support a transition towards a circular economy. The present project, commissioned by the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark, investigates household behaviour on waste sorting. More specifically, the project aims to quantify to what extent people are willing to sort their household wastes and to investigate the different factors that influence their preferences for waste separation.

Key findings

Data have been collected through a national scale survey, which includes a choice experiment. Household respondents were asked to evaluate different waste sorting schemes. Complete responses from 1011 households were analyzed. The findings demonstrate that Danish households in general have positive responses towards home waste separation. Furthermore, the findings from the choice experiment support four segments of households reflecting the heterogeneity in household preferences towards different sorting systems. To illustrate, while one of the segments responds favourably towards sorting systems with the possibility for local collection points for hazardous waste and for sorting bio-waste, some segments express the opposite. The research also found statistical relationships between the segmentation of the households and sociodemographic factors including gender and occupation. The findings reveal trade-offs between households’ sorting preferences and the time allocation for sorting. The research provides estimates of the implied value of the time. These values differ across segments, ranging between 21 to 47 DKK per hour, and are in general lower than the Danish wage rate, which is consistent with reports from relevant studies from other countries. Results from the project are expected to contribute not only towards academic debates surrounding the subject matter but also to inform policy making especially in relation to the Danish strategies towards more efficient and effective waste management in support of a circular economy.
Effective start/end date18/09/201719/11/2018

    Research areas

  • circular economy, waste sorting, recycling, survey, household preference, choice experiment, choice model



Research outputs

ID: 163745590