Domestic waste recycling, collective action and economic incentive: The case in Hong Kong

Yung YAU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


Efficacy of waste recycling is one of the key determinants of environmental sustainability of a city. Like other pro-environmental activities, waste recycling cannot be successfully accomplished by just one or two people, but only by a concerted effort of the community. The collective-action dilemma creates a common underlying difficulty in formulating workable solutions to many environmental problems. With a view to the non-excludability of the outcome, rationality drives people to free-ride efforts of others in waste recycling. To solve this free-rider problem, some scholars suggest the use of economic incentive. This article attempts to study the impacts of reward schemes on waste recycling behaviour of residents in 122 private housing estates in Hong Kong. The study is differentiable from the others as the latter mainly focus on domestic waste recycling in low-rise low-density housing while this one looks into the same in a high-rise high-density residential setting. According to the results of analyses on a set of aggregate data, reward schemes are found to have a significant positive relationship with the per-household weight of recyclables collected, keeping other things constant. The research findings suggest that economic incentives do work in promoting waste recycling in Hong Kong. Practical and policy implications follow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2440-2447
Number of pages8
JournalWaste Management
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

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