An analysis of the determinants of household waste recycling behaviour

Wolfe, Laurence E. M. (2011). An analysis of the determinants of household waste recycling behaviour. PhD thesis The Open University.



Previous research has identified household recycling as being an important pro- environmental behaviour and that behaviour is influenced by a number of psycho- social determinants. Several behavioural models were evaluated for appropriateness in representing recycling behaviour. The Triandis Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour (TIB) was selected as it incorporates a diverse range of psycho-social components, identified in the literature review as being important to household recycling. The TIB has been successfully used in other areas of human behaviour and was considered a useful model for investigating household recycling behaviour. This thesis presents research into household recycling behaviour in a UK local authority using a mixed-method approach. The research was conducted in phases commencing with scoping of the study area, analysis of secondary data from a large scale quantitative survey of households, and primary qualitative research through interviews with residents. It uses the TIB as a framework for presenting the findings, Questions from the household survey were used as proxies representing TIB components and compared with the results from the household interviews to provide an in-depth exploration of household recycling. A key finding was that individuals demonstrated characteristics of one of two types of recycling behaviour based on effort and degree of self-restriction. Significant differences were observed between behavioural determinants in accordance with their recycling behaviour. This suggests that recycling behaviour may be associated with different levels of influence based on the disposition of the individual. The research concluded that the TIB provides a useful way of framing the determinants of household recycling behaviour, and that its wider application could contribute to the understanding and practice.

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