Recycling Gone Bad: When the Option to Recycle Increases Resource Consumption

Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2012, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2012.04.001

21 Pages Posted: 15 May 2012 Last revised: 17 Sep 2012

Jesse R Catlin

California State University, Sacramento

Yitong Wang

Tsinghua University - Department of Industrial Engineering

Date Written: May 10, 2012

Abstract

In this study, we propose that the ability to recycle may lead to increased resource usage compared to when a recycling option is not available. Supporting this hypothesis, our first experiment shows that consumers used more paper while evaluating a pair of scissors when the option to recycle was provided (vs. not provided). In a follow-up field experiment, we find that the per person restroom paper hand towel usage increased after the introduction of a recycling bin compared to when a recycling option was not available. We conclude by discussing implications for research and policy.

Keywords: sustainability, recycling, consumption, field experiment

Suggested Citation

Catlin, Jesse R and Wang, Yitong, Recycling Gone Bad: When the Option to Recycle Increases Resource Consumption (May 10, 2012). Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2012, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2012.04.001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2056047

Jesse R Catlin

California State University, Sacramento ( email )

Sacramento, CA 95819
United States

Yitong Wang (Contact Author)

Tsinghua University - Department of Industrial Engineering ( email )

Beijing
China

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