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A climate for change? Challenges for household waste separation

Gaschk, K. and Baudains, C.ORCID: 0000-0001-8340-864X (2019) A climate for change? Challenges for household waste separation. In: 34th Annual Research Forum. West Australian Institute for Educational Research (WAIER), 3 August 2019, The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, WA.


While there has recently been clear acknowledgement in the public sphere that the way society deals with waste must change, there has not been a great deal of change in the way information or education about how to separate household waste is delivered. Current practice remains primarily entrenched in one-way communication strategies. This practice is driven by assumptions made by waste managers that if "the information is available" people will correctly separate waste unless they do not care. This research explored the accuracy of this assumption by examining how participants separate 19 common household waste items, why they make their choices, and what barriers and motivators they believe influence their decisions. Survey data was collected from 299 residents of the Southern Metropolitan Regional Council in Perth. Results showed that despite positive attitudes (x? 4/5) there was low level knowledge (x? 3.3/7) and a range of accuracy in separation of household waste items, with 6 items being separated correctly by more than 95% of residents, 8 items correctly separated by less than 53% of residents. The most consistently used information source was the Council Recycling calendar, while uptake of online information sources was poor. The most significant barriers identified by participants were limited knowledge and bin size/collection rates. Main motivators desired by participants were consistent with the barriers identified. Residents indicated a desire to correctly separate their waste and a need for change in the way information is provided. This has important implications for future education and engagement strategies, including the need for residents to more deeply understand waste management processes beyond a static list of "recycling rules", requiring educators to engage in ongoing dialogue about the constantly evolving state of waste management.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
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