Polls / April 27, 2010

Should people be rewarded for recycling or fined if they don't?

Rewards for recycling are more popular than punishments in the latest eZonomics online poll, with 55% of respondents saying people should be rewarded for recycling and 19% saying people should be fined if they don’t.

We have pay as you go – now how about pay as you throw?
Respondents may favour a reward but the question authorities will want to answer is: will it increase recycling?
Studies have shown that the opposite – charging for waste collection – can cut the amount of rubbish people produce and increase recycling. Parts of Sweden that imposed pay-by-weight household waste schemes collected 20% less household waste per person, according to a research paper issued in January.
There is evidence from the United States suggesting rewards can work too, with a paper showing that increasing incentives (such as repaying deposits on return for plastic water bottles) leads to increased recycling.

The costs of waste collection is going up
The cost of collecting household waste varies across Europe from a low of €18 per household in Belgium to €75 in Ireland, according to European Commission data cited by the Landfill Site. Pressures mean these costs are going up in some places, with Local Government Association in the United Kingdom claiming new government legislation for landfill will push up council tax bills by as much as £49 annually per household in the UK by 2014.

Reward and recycle
In the future, the focus on cutting waste could change the way we shop.
Buying choices, for example, could be increasingly determined by the way that goods are packaged rather than a focus on price.
Perhaps there could be a return of widespread bottle and can collection schemes, in which children and others earn money by collecting the waste and claiming a fee.


eZonomics team
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