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Citizens recycle even in the absence of economic incentives, shows study from Malta

October 7, 2016

Citizens recycle even in the absence of economic incentives, shows study from Malta

Recycling is an important policy goal in the EU, which has around half the global share of waste and recycling industries and some of the highest recycling rates in the world, as well as ambitious targets for the future.

In most Member States, communication campaigns and economic incentives (e.g. pay-as-you-throw schemes, such as the one in Treviso, Italy, where citizens who sort their waste pay lower waste fees) have been key in motivating citizens to separate their waste, which is a pre-requisite for achieving high recycling rates. In those cases where pay-as-you-throw schemes cannot yet be introduced, voluntary participation is one way to get separate collection started. Waste separation is one of few areas where there is clear evidence of voluntary pro-environmental behaviour. A recently published study evaluated such behaviour in Malta.

In 2007, Malta was generating among the highest quantities of municipal solid waste per capita in the EU and had the lowest recycling rates. Of an approximate 266 000 tonnes of municipal waste generated each year, less than 3 000 tonnes was separated, making improvements to waste separation (and thus recycling) a priority for the government. This study looked at a 2008 recycling scheme implemented by central government, a governmental body responsible for waste management and local councils.

Read more at "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service, edited by SCU, The University of the West of England, Bristol.

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