Understanding waste minimisation practices at the individual and household level
Cutforth, Claire Louise
Over recent years, the issue of how to manage waste sustainably has intensified for both researchers and policy makers. From a policy perspective, the reason for this intensification can be traced to European legislation and its transposition into UK policy. The Welsh Government in particular has set challenging statutory targets for Local Authorities. Such targets include increases in recycling and composting as well as waste reduction and reuse targets. From a research perspective there has been dissatisfaction with behavioural models and their willingness to explore alternative social science thinking (such as leading approaches to practice).\ud \ud Despite policy interest in sustainable waste practices, there remains little research which focuses specifically on waste minimisation at the individual or household level. What research exists focuses on pro-environmental or recycling behaviour, and tends to focus upon values, intention and behavioural change, rather than on what actual practices occur, and for what reasons. This research focuses on what practices take place in order to access a more complex range of reasons why such practices take place. The methodology adopts a qualitative approach to uncovering practices in a variety of contexts, and discovers a number of key insights which underpin waste minimisation practice. This thesis demonstrates that waste minimisation performances take place, but often do so ‘unwittingly’. Coupled to this, many witting or unwitting waste minimisation actions occur for reasons other than concern for the environment. Furthermore, this research suggests that practices (and their motivations) vary dependent upon the context in which they occur. In general, three key themes were found to be significant in influencing the take up and transfer of practice: cost, convenience, and community. As a waste practitioner, the researcher is able to engage with these themes in order to suggest future directions for waste minimisation policy as well as research.
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