Residential recycling programs: Environmental, economic and disposal factors

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The type of recycling program initiated by state or local government is related to (a) the environmental awareness of the population and the subsequent reflection of that awareness in government, (b) the state's municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal situation, and (c) the market conditions for recycled materials. Two hypotheses are studied: (1) voluntary participation recycling programs are initiated when environmental awareness is the driving force and market conditions are good and (2) mandatory participation recycling programs result when the driving force is MSW disposal difficulties. New Jersey and Oregon, two of the states, with statewide mandatory and voluntary recycling programs respectively, are studied with respect to the events leading to the enactment of their recycling programs. The hypotheses are supported by the events in each state. Hypothesis 2 is further supported by data from 48 states comparing information on each state's MSW disposal situation with the local and statewide recycling programs reported in a survey. The percentages of mandatory recycling programs increase with increasing MSW disposal difficulty. A measure of environmental awareness must be developed before hypothesis one can be studied with cross-sectional data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-152
Number of pages10
JournalWaste Management & Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1989
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Pollution


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