Changing everyday waste sorting practices

Last changed: 25 May 2023
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Emilia Hultman, Environmental Communication and Management - Master's programme


Through new responsibilities for the municipalities to implement a door-to-door waste collection system for private households, are sorting and recycling rates of packaging waste expected to increase. However, waste sorting practices are socially constituted and routinised, which makes them challenging to change. Previous studies stress the importance of the relationship between the implementing organisation and the residents when introducing such intervention, to enable a trustworthy, socially- and contextually anchored process. The communication is stressed as key in this process. This study is, through interviews with municipal representatives, set out to identify communications strategies used in previous cases of introduction of this waste collection system, to understand what communicative activities can motivate residents to adopt the system and sort more packaging waste. A complementing research perspective of social practice studies in a focus group-set up is used to understand the residents’ sense making of their own household waste sorting practices. The study identified social interactions, contingency of materials and physical space, facilitation of the system and contexts as factors affecting motivations to sort waste. Acknowledgement of these factors in the establishment of a communicative strategy point to possibility to engage the residents in the implementation process and provide a socially anchored communication that can motivate adoption of the new system and changed waste sorting practices.



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