The Effectiveness of Dutch Municipal Recycling Policies

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 14-155/VI

27 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2014

See all articles by Elbert Dijkgraaf

Elbert Dijkgraaf

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE); Erasmus University Rotterdam, SEOR-ECRi

Raymond H. J. M. Gradus

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Tinbergen Institute

Date Written: December 18, 2014


The EU advocates a household waste recycling rate of more than 70%. Although the Netherlands already years ago invested in recycling policies heavily, this is still a large challenge as nowadays on average this rate is approximately 50% and nearly no municipalities have a rate above 70%. Given the experience, it is possible to learn from the Dutch experience which policies are effective in increasing the recycling rates. Based on a large panel data set for the Netherlands, we show that unit-based pricing, avoiding a duo-bin or unsorted and compostable waste, and moving back the frequency of collecting unsorted and compostable waste at the curbside are effective in raising the recycling rate. However, only unit-based pricing has a substantial effect. In nearly all cases changing the frequency of collection of recyclables had no or very small effects. We find some evidence for the effectiveness of adding bring locations to curbside collection. Based on an estimation of the cost function most policies have no effect on costs, except for unit-based pricing (saving on cost) and increases in the frequency of unsorted waste collection (cost increasing). Overall, it seems nearly impossible to reach the EU-goal of 70% with the policies applied.

Keywords: Recycling; waste policy; recycling; local government; Netherlands

JEL Classification: Q18, Q38, R11, R15

Suggested Citation

Dijkgraaf, Elbert and Gradus, Raymond H. J. M., The Effectiveness of Dutch Municipal Recycling Policies (December 18, 2014). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 14-155/VI, Available at SSRN: or

Elbert Dijkgraaf (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam, NL 3062 PA

Erasmus University Rotterdam, SEOR-ECRi ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
H 7-34
Rotterdam, 3000 DR
+31 10 4082590 (Phone)
+31 10 4089650 (Fax)


Raymond H. J. M. Gradus

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ( email )

Amsterdam, ND North Holland

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA

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