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
Date Written: May 10, 2012
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
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