The Displacement Effect of Convenience: The Case of Recycling

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In light of increasingly ambitious recycling targets it is important to analyse the potential displacement effect of improving access to kerbside provision on other forms of recycling. Do households view the different modes of recycling as substitutes or complements of each other? Does this perceived relationship depend on the type of material recycled? Using data for all of the UK's local governments from 2004Q2 to 2013Q3 we analyse the nature of the relationship between the two main channels of recycling. In the case of dry recycling, the empirical findings are ambiguous on the trade­off between kerbside and non-kerbside recycling. On the one hand, the findings suggest that there is no trade-off when considering the effect of expanding kerbside provision. On the other hand, the findings also suggest that there is a trade-off when we focus on the effect of expanding non­kerbside provision. However, putting together the empirical findings with theory (in particular, the symmetry property of the Hicksian substitution effect) suggests that there is a trade-off irrespective of whether we consider expansion of kerbside or non-kerbside provision. In the case of green (compost) recycling the empirical findings on their own or together with theory unambiguously suggest that there is a trade-off.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Economics
Early online date24 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Recycling
  • Substitutability
  • Gross substitutability
  • Waste policy


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