Energy, the Environment, and Public Policy: Issues for the 1990s

By David L. McKee | Go to book overview

Recycling Behavior: The Causal Role of Demographic, Communication, and Attitudinal Factors

FLORENCE M. LANSANA, MILTON E. HARVEY, AND JOHN W. FRAZIER

As a by-product of the technological revolution and the emergence of a consuming society, solid waste is being generated at an alarming rate. Reports from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census ( 1989) estimate that since 1960 the annual output of solid waste generated by residential and commercial processes has doubled with major components of paper products, metals, yard, and food wastes.

Currently, about 80 percent of the waste is disposed of in landfills and another 1 percent is incinerated (The Center for Plastics Recycling Research 1989). But as environmental consciousness increases, host communities are raising concerns about the potential health threats, the decrease in property values, increasing traffic from garbage trucks, and the general decline in community image. This makes it increasingly difficult for decision makers to locate new sites for such disposal practices.

A strategy that is increasingly applied in an attempt to reduce these environmental concerns and recapture some of the costs in solid waste management is recycling. This offers several advantages including resource conservation, waste reduction, and the protection of the natural environment ( Chandler 1984). But regardless of these advantages, few communities have actually made any significant progress in implementing voluntary recycling programs into their neighborhoods. For the entire country, only nine states plus the District of Columbia have enacted legislation requiring curbside collection of recyclables (The Center for Plastics Recycling Research 1989). More states are expected to pass similar legislations by the end of 1990.

Despite new legislations, the success of a recycling program essentially depends on the households. A number of authors have

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