Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 473–491

Household Waste Management in a Swedish Municipality: Determinants of Waste Disposal, Recycling and Composting


  • Heleen Bartelings
    • Department of EconomicsUniversity of Göteborg
  • Thomas Sterner
    • Department of EconomicsUniversity of Göteborg

DOI: 10.1023/A:1008214417099

Cite this article as:
Bartelings, H. & Sterner, T. Environmental and Resource Economics (1999) 13: 473. doi:10.1023/A:1008214417099


This paper analyzes waste disposal, recycling and composting in a municipality in southwest Sweden. In 1994, Varberg introduced a weight-based billing system for household waste charging 1 kr/kg of waste and at the same time recycling centers were set up and a ‘green shopping’ campaign was launched. This led to a significant reduction in waste collected and increased recycling. This study had access to actual measured data on waste disposal at the household level for a residential area called Tvååker, in addition to survey data for the same households. This makes it possible to carry out a more reliable and more detailed analysis than has been previously possible, particularly with respect to attitudinal variables. The most important determinants of each individual household's waste were composting of kitchen waste, living area, age and attitudes concerning the difficulty of recycling various materials. Separate sections look at composting behaviour, at willingness to pay for sound waste management and for the sake of comparison three other municipalities are also studied. The main finding is that economic incentives, although important, are not the only driving force behind the observed reduction in municipal waste: Given the proper infrastructure that facilitates recycling, people are willing to invest more time than can be motivated purely by savings on their waste management bill.

waste managementrecyclingincentives

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999