Crunch the can or throw the bottle? Effect of "bottle deposit laws" and municipal recycling programs

"Although there is growing public awareness about environmental issues, incentive mechanisms leading to individual pro-environmental behaviors remain less investigated. This article examines the impact of bottle deposit laws (BDL), municipal recycling programs (MRP), and the ease of municipal recycling on recycling frequency for numerous products. An online survey of U.S. and Canadian households was conducted to collect data about individuals’ recycling practices and perceptions. We contracted an online survey company, Global Market Insite (GMI), to recruit panelists within their database to take the survey. GMI invited 2700 consumer panelists within their database representing all contiguous U.S. states and all Canadian provinces with 2511 surveys completed. Utilizing specific treatment groups and propensity score matching to control for unobserved heterogeneity, we find that MRP has a greater impact on recycling behaviors than BDL, and that the perceived ease of MRP positively influences individual recycling behaviors. For BDL without a municipal program being present, their effect is only for those products requiring the deposit. This research is useful for agencies interested in encouraging recycling behavior and researchers interested in the determinants of recycling behavior. Both programs should be measured for effectiveness and municipal recycling programs should be implemented where the goal is to promote recycling behavior as it was shown here to have a greater impact on recycling programs and may be perceived as an easier thing to do." (


Scientific article

Author names: 

Benjamin Campbell, Hayk Khachatryan, Bridget Behe, Charles Hall, Jennifer Dennis

Length (pp): 

13 (pp. 98-109)



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