Monetary Incentives and Recycling: Behavioural and Psychological Reactions to a Performance-Dependent Garbage Fee

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The effects of offering monetary incentives for performing environmentally desirable behaviours are investigated in the context of a pay-by-weight scheme for garbage collection. Effects on different types of recycling and on the motivation behind recycling are investigated in a field setting based on a random sample (n = 1,955) drawn from two groups of three matched municipalities, where households in one group pay a fixed fee for garbage collection and in the other a fee depending on the weight of their garbage. The study shows that the latter group delivers more material to recycling and composts more in the garden. A substantial proportion of the effect is mediated through perceived self-efficacy and personal norms. The results are consistent with the proposition that government regulation communicates norms and responsibilities and therefore can enhance internalized motivation in the form of a moral norm.

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