Advertisement

Assessing the Causal Effect of Curbside Collection on Recycling Behavior in a Non-randomized Experiment with Self-reported Outcome

  • Henning Best
  • Thorsten Kneip
Article

Abstract

This paper aims at identifying the causal effect of reducing behavioral costs of participation in household waste recycling through curbside collection. Using propensity score matching and differences-in-differences estimation with individual-level panel data we estimate the effect of curbside collection, its variation between types of recyclables and sociodemographic background variables, and its elasticity with regard to the distance to collection containers in the bring scheme condition. We argue that in a quasi-experimental setting DD may be systematically upward biased due to the outcome variable being self-reported while DDD may be systematically downward biased in the presence of spillover effects. Accordingly, both estimators can be combined to derive upper and lower bounds of the true effect. We find that a curbside scheme has no effect on paper recycling but increases recycling participation by between 10 and 25% points for plastic and packaging. Moreover, we find systematic treatment effect heterogeneity with regard to pre-treatment distance to collection sites and individual environmental attitudes, but not by socio-demography. The results of our analysis therefore have important implications for effective and cost-efficient implementation of environmental protection policies in urban areas.

Keywords

Environmental behavior Environmental policy Recycling Natural experiment Propensity score matching Differences in differences Causal analysis 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Fritz-Thyssen-Foundation, Cologne, Germany. We thank Tobias Rüttenauer, Susumu Shikano, Martin Spindler, several anonymous reviewers and the editor for helpful comments.

References

  1. Abadie A, Imbens GW (2008) On the failure of the bootstrap for matching estimators. Econometrica 76:1537–1557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abrate G, Erbetta F, Fraquelli G, Vannoni D (2014) The costs of disposal and recycling: an application to Italian municipal solid waste services. Reg Stud 48:896–909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ando AW, Gosselin AY (2005) Recycling in multifamily dwellings: does convenience matter? Econ Inq 43:426–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartelings H, Dellink RB, van Ierland EC (2004) Modeling market distortions in an applied general equilibrium framework: the case of flat fee pricing in the waste market. In: Van den Bergh JCJM, Janssen MA (eds) Economics of industrial ecology. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  5. Beatty TKM, Berck P, Shimshack JP (2007) Curbside recycling in the presence of alternatives. Econ Inq 45:739–755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Best H, Kneip T (2011) The impact of attitudes and behavioral costs on environmental behavior: a natural experiment on household waste recycling. Soc Sci Res 40:917–930CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caliendo M, Kopeinig S (2008) Some practical guidance for the implementation of propensity score matching. J Economic Surv 22:31–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dillman DA (2000) Mail and internet surveys: the tailored design method, 2nd edn. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Dur R, Vollaard B (2015) The power of a bad example: a field experiment in household garbage disposal. Environ Behav 47:970–1000CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. EPA (2015) Advancing sustainable materials management: facts and figures 2013. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/2013_advncng_smm_rpt.pdf. Last Accessed 22 March 2018
  11. Fullerton D, Kinnaman TC (1995) Garbage, recycling, and illicit burning or dumping. J Environ Econ Manag 29:78–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fullerton D, Kinnaman TC (1996) Household responses to pricing garbage by the bag. Am Econ Rev 86:971–984Google Scholar
  13. Gangl M (2006) Scar effects of unemployment: an assessment of institutional complementarities. Am Sociol Rev 71:986–1013CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gangl M (2010) Causal inference in sociological research. Annu Rev Sociol 36:21–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Guagnano GA, Stern PC, Dietz T (1995) Influences on attitude-behavior relationships. A natural experiment with curbside recycling. Environ Behav 27:699–718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Heckman JJ, Ichimura H, Todd PE (1997) Matching as an econometric evaluation estimator: evidence from evaluating a job training program. Rev Econ Stud 64:605–654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Heckman JJ, Ichimura H, Todd PE (1998) Matching as an econometric evaluation estimator. Rev Econ Stud 65:261–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hopewell J, Dvorak R, Kosior E (2009) Plastics recycling: challenges and opportunities. Philos Trans R Soc B 364:2115–2126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jenkins RR, Martinez SA, Palmer K, Podolsky MJ (2003) The determinants of household recycling: a material specific analysis of recycling program features and unit pricing. J Environ Econ Manag 45:294–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kinnaman TC, Fullerton D (2000) Garbage and recycling with endogenous local policy. J Urban Econ 48:419–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kuo Y-L, Perrings C (2010) Wasting time? Recycling incentives in urban Taiwan and Japan. Environ Resour Econ 47:423–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lee M (2016) Generalized difference in differences with panel data and least squares estimator. Sociol Methods Res 45:134–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ravaillion M, Chen S (2005) Hidden impact? Household saving in response to a poor-area development project. J Public Econ 89:2183–2204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Reschovsky JD, Stone SE (1994) Market incentives to encourage household waste recycling: paying for what you throw away. J Policy Anal Manag 13:120–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rosenbaum PR, Rubin DB (1983) The central role of the propensity score in observational studies for causal effects. Biometrika 70:41–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rosenbaum PR, Rubin DB (1985) Constructing a control group using multivariate matched sampling methods that incorporate the propensity score. Am Stat 39:33–38Google Scholar
  27. Sidique SF, Joshi SV, Lupi F (2010) Factors influencing the rate of recycling: an analysis of Minnesota counties. Resour Conserv Recycl 54:242–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tsai T-H, Sheu S-J (2009) Will unit-pricing enhance recycling? Int J Sustain Dev World Ecol 16:102–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. van den Bergh JCJM (2008) Environmental regulation of households: an empirical review of economic and psychological factors. Ecol Econ 66:559–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Winship C, Morgan SL (1999) The estimation of causal effects from observational data. Ann Rev Sociol 25:659–706CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. World Bank (2012) What a waste. A global review of solid waste management. Urban development series knowledge papers. World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesUniversity of KaiserslauternKaiserslauternGermany
  2. 2.MEAMax Planck Institute for Social Law and Social PolicyMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations