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No. 295: Consumers in a circular economy: socioeconomic analysis of Danish households waste sorting behavior

Nainggolan, D., Pedersen, A.B., Smed, S., Zemo, K.H., Hasler, B. & Termansen, M. 2018. Forbrugere i en cirkulær økonomi: socioøkonomisk analyse af danske husstandes affaldssorteringsadfærd. Aarhus Universitet, DCE – Nationalt Center for Miljø og Energi, 33 s. - Videnskabelig rapport nr. 295. http://dce2.au.dk/pub/SR295.pdf


The present research provides a quantitative assessment of how Danish households rank different sorting schemes. It employs a choice-experiment based, nation-wide survey across Denmark and obtain complete responses from 1011 households. Differences in the sorting systems are characterized by a number of factors including how households should handle different types of waste (plastic, biowaste, hazardous waste). The findings demonstrate that Danish households in general have positive responses towards home waste separation. Furthermore, the findings support four segments of households reflecting the heterogeneity in household preferences towards different sorting systems. To illustrate, while one of the segments respond favourably towards sorting systems with the possibility for local collection points for hazardous waste and for sorting bio-waste, some segments express the opposite. The research also found statistical relationships between the segmentation of the households and socio-demographic factors. Although Danish households in general are in support of home waste separation, the findings reveal trade-offs between their sorting preferences and the time allocation for sorting. The research provides estimates of the implied value of the time. These values differ across segments, ranging between 21 to 47 DKK per hour, and are in general lower than the Danish wage rate, which is consistent with reports from relevant studies from other countries. The interpretation and potential use of these implied values of time have to be done with a full appreciation of the design of the research. Overall, the findings point to the need for factoring in the heterogeneity in household preferences for home waste sorting in the process of developing future initiatives in order to effect more effective sorting systems with a wider public support.