Commitment Approach to Motivating Community Recycling: New Zealand Curbside Trial

Authors

  • WENDY J. BRYCE,

    1. Wendy J. Bryce and Thomas J. Olney are Associate Professors, Marketing, Western Washington University, Bellingham; Rachel Day is a graduate student, Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
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  • RACHEL DAY,

    1. Wendy J. Bryce and Thomas J. Olney are Associate Professors, Marketing, Western Washington University, Bellingham; Rachel Day is a graduate student, Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
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  • THOMAS J. OLNEY

    1. Wendy J. Bryce and Thomas J. Olney are Associate Professors, Marketing, Western Washington University, Bellingham; Rachel Day is a graduate student, Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
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  • This study was made possible through a grant from the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand to the first author. The authors thank David Buisson, Chair, and Rob Lawson, Professor, both of the Department of Marketing, University of Otago for their support throughout the research process. We also express our appreciation to the City Council and the citizens of Dunedin for their cooperation.

Abstract

An urban community in New Zealand was the site of a field experiment designed to assess different approaches to increasing household participation in a cnrbside recycling program. Two different commitment interventions were delivered using a 2 × 2 factorial design, and weekly participation data were collected over 12 weeks. Half of the households were asked to make an explicit verbal commitment to participate in the program, while half were not. Half of the households were also requested to pay for their recycling bins, while half received bins free of charge. All households received the same educational and promotional information, specifically designed to maximize participation, regarding program details. The verbal commitment intervention significantly increased participation relative to the no commitment intervention, while difficulties in the operationalization of the financial commitment intervention made it difficult to assess its validity as a construct. Notably, differences in participation rates between the control group, who received only educational and promotional materials, and the experimental treatment groups were not statistically significant. The discussion focuses oh the increasing importance of well-designed educational materials for encouraging voluntary curb-side recycling.

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