Rhodes, R.E., Beauchamp, M., Conner, M., De Bruijn, G.J., Kaushal, N., & Latimer-Cheung, A. (2014). Are mere instructions enough? Evaluation of four types of messages on community depot recycling. Resources, Conservation & Recycling, 90, 1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2014.04.008

Curbside recycling efforts have made an important contribution to waste containment, but many communities have specific limitations on what products can be recycled within their community bins (e.g., no cartons, styrofoam, soft plastics) and must rely on depots for recycling these other items. These specialty depots typically take the form of local community or large central municipal sites. The purpose of this randomized trial was to examine messages targeting (1) awareness/instructions, (2) utility, (3) affect, and (4) planning upon community and central depot recycling across eight weeks. One hundred and seventy-six community-dwelling residents between the ages of 18–65 years who self-identified as having the potential to improve their depot recycling activities completed baseline recycling measures and then were randomly assigned to one of the four messaging conditions. One hundred and forty-four of these participants subsequently answered follow-up recycling behavior measures four and eight weeks later. Intention to treat analyses showed that depot recycling increased significantly from baseline to four weeks. The effect waned for community recycling while holding for municipal depot recycling at eight weeks. Distance to recycling depot (closer proximity resulted in greater community recycling), access to a car (low access resulted in greater community recycling), and baseline recycling behavior (no prior recycling resulted in greater behavior change) all acted as significant moderators of the effect. There was no time by group interaction among conditions. The findings support the use of basic instructions – as a minimum – for promoting depot recycling efforts and provide evidence that local community depots, in conjunction with municipal depots, are important to increasing recycling behavior.

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