Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
National Institute of Economic Research

No 148: Direct and indirect effects of waste management policies on household waste behaviour: The case of Sweden

Camilla Andersson and Jester Stage
Additional contact information
Camilla Andersson: National Institute of Economic Research, Postal: National Institute of Economic Research, P.O. Box 3116, SE-103 62 Stockholm, Sweden
Jester Stage: Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Luleå University of Technology

Abstract: Swedish legislation makes municipalities responsible for recycling or disposing of household waste. Municipalities therefore play an important role in achieving Swe-den’s increased levels of ambition in the waste management area and in achieving the goal of a more circular economy. This paper studies how two municipal policy instruments – weight-based waste tariffs and special systems for the collection of food waste – affect the collected volumes of different types of waste. We find that a system of collecting food waste separately is more effective overall than imposing weight-based waste tariffs in respect not only of reducing the amounts of waste destined for incineration, but also of increasing materials recycling and biological recovery, despite the fact that the direct incentive effects of these two systems should be similar. Separate food waste collection was associated with increased recycling not only of food waste but also of other waste. This suggests that the signalling effect of food waste collection, i.e. indirectly indicating to households that recycling is important and desirable, may be as important as direct incentive effects.

Keywords: food waste collection; signalling; Sweden; waste management; waste tariffs

JEL-codes: Q50; Q53

22 pages, March 22, 2017

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