Monetary Incentives and Waste Sorting


This paper examines whether monetary incentives are an effective tool for increasing domestic waste sorting. We exploit the exogenous variation in the waste management policies experienced during the years 1999–2008 by the 95 municipalities in the district of Treviso (Italy). We estimate with a panel analysis that pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) incentive schemes increase by 12.3% the sorted-total waste ratio. This increase reflects a change in the behavior of households, who keep unaltered the production of total waste but sort it to a larger extent. Our data show that household behavior is also influenced by the policies of adjacent municipalities. * We thank Arpav-Servizio Osservatorio Rifiuti e Compostaggio and the three consortia (Priula, Savno, and TV3) managing waste disposal in the district of Treviso for kindly providing us with the data and the information we needed to develop this analysis. We further thank In this paper we study the effectiveness of monetary incentives in the context of domestic waste disposal. Nowadays this is considered a central issue in the policymaker's agenda, as the continuing growth in population size and wealth make our society produce increasingly more waste that we must eliminate somehow. Waste disposal is challenging: available options are to bury waste in landfills or burn it in incinerators. However, landfills can store only a small part of the waste we produce, and they are often perceived as dangerous to the health of citizens (Kinnaman and Fullerton, 2000). Incinerators, for their part, are expensive and their consequences on health and the environment seem controversial (British Society for Ecological Medicine, 2008; Health Protection Agency, 2005) with the consequence that citizens are even less willing to host such plants in their neighbourhood. A viable solution is then to ask domestic users to sort waste at home. However, sorting waste is not a pleasant activity: it requires considerable effort, a lot of time and attention. The goal of this paper is therefore to understand if monetary incentives can be used to increase the sorted waste ratio (the ratio between sorted and total waste), thus reducing the amount of unsorted waste that will end up in landfills and incinerators. As we explain below, the answer is not trivial and monetary incentives could even have a negative impact on the sorted waste ratio. Historically, in Western countries households used to drop off all their mixed waste in special bins placed along the streets, and they were charged …

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Bucciol2011MonetaryIA, title={Monetary Incentives and Waste Sorting}, author={Alessandro Bucciol and Natalia Montinari and Marco Piovesan and Paolo Buonanno and Francesco Manaresi and Raffaele Miniaci and Giacomo Pasini and Bill Simpson and Sigrid Suetens}, year={2011} }