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Greening Household Behaviour

The Role of Public Policy

image of Greening Household Behaviour

Developing growth strategies that promote greener lifestyles requires a good understanding of what factors affect people’s behaviour towards the environment. Recent OECD work based on periodic surveys of more than 10 000 households across a number of countries and areas represents a breakthrough by providing a common framework to collect unique empirical evidence for better policy design.

This publication presents responses from the most recent round of the OECD survey implemented in 2011 in 5 areas (energy, food, transport, waste and water) and 11 countries: Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Israel, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Analysis comparing the data across countries, policy conditions and households’ characteristics reveals which measures most effectively change behaviour. Each round of the survey also allows to track changes over time and to explore new emerging issues.  

The new survey confirms the importance of providing the right economic incentives for influencing our decisions. The findings indicate that “soft” measures such as labelling and public information campaigns also have a significant complementary role to play. Spurring desirable behaviour change requires a mix of these instruments. 

This book is a milestone for all those interested by the challenging question of ways to promote greener behaviour, from policy makers to individual citizens.  

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Waste Generation, Recycling and Prevention

Addressing the issue of municipal solid waste is a challenge and households are directly responsible for the generation of a large proportion of municipal waste. This chapter summarises results which improve our understanding of household behaviour with respect to waste, assisting policy makers in the design of efficient policies that induce people to minimise waste through waste recycling and prevention. This chapter addresses key policy issues such as the impact of waste charges on waste generation and recycling rates and waste prevention efforts. The question of whether the presence and characteristics of recycling programmes (e.g. door-to-door, drop-off, frequency of pick up) significantly affect the generation of mixed waste for disposal and waste recycling is examined. The role of general attitudes towards the environment in influencing household behaviour is considered as well.

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