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Keywords:

  • Municipal solid waste;
  • policy incentives;
  • waste minimization

Municipal solid waste minimization involves decisions by product manufacturers, government institutions, private businesses, and householders to reduce the amount of waste placed in the waste stream (‘source-reduction’) and to divert waste entering the waste stream toward benign purposes (‘waste diversion’) – rather than toward disposal through incineration or landfilling. Three basic types of policy incentives can be used to prompt waste generators, handlers, and managers to minimize waste generation: command-and-control regulations, social-psychological incentives, and economic incentives. The likelihood of command-and-control regulations being successfully implemented depends importantly on the social-psychological and economic incentives for waste minimization provided in the regulations. Experience from various parts of the world shows that, when such incentives are provided, agencies and individual householders can learn to change their attitudes and behavior toward generation and disposal of waste. However, fully achieving this result will require considerable time and much purposeful attention to the wide array of interrelated matters required in minimizing waste generation.