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

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The present research provides a quantitative assessment of households' preferences for different waste separation and handling schemes. We employ a choice-experiment based, nation-wide survey across Denmark. The findings support four different types of “waste sorters”; reflecting the heterogeneity in household waste sorting preferences. To illustrate, while one segment responds favourably towards sorting systems with the possibility for local collection points for hazardous waste and for sorting bio-waste, some segments express opposite responses. We found statistically significant relationships between the heterogeneity in household preferences for home waste sorting and households' sociodemographic characteristics, current self-reported time allocation for waste sorting and handling, use of recycling facilities as well as attitudinal factors on personal motivation and social influence. Furthermore, the findings reveal trade-offs between households' waste sorting preferences and the amount of time they have to spend sorting. We estimate a value of time for this pro-environmental activity of between 2.8 and 6.3 EUR per hour. Overall, the present research demonstrates that households express different preferences towards the practical design of waste sorting systems. This needs to be considered in the development of policy initiatives in order to achieve more effective sorting systems through higher rates of compliance from the public at large.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106402
JournalEcological Economics
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

    Research areas

  • Circular economy; Waste sorting; Recycling; Discrete choice experiment; Choice model; Household preference; Survey; Segmentation; Latent class model, SDGCircularEconomy

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