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  • Writer's pictureJulie de Vaan

How to stimulate waste collection and separation?

Updated: May 12

To prevent waste and pollution, we must ensure that our waste ends up in the correct waste stream. It is therefore important that we separate and collect our waste correctly. So, in the correct bin and not on the street, in nature, or all together in the same bin. Only then, our waste can be properly processed, reused or recycled.

But what determines whether people dispose their waste correctly or not? And how can you nudge this behaviour (towards the right bin)? The following buttons are the most important. If you know how to push these buttons right, you can change behaviour and ensure that people continue to dispose of their waste properly in the long term.

Attitude towards waste collection and waste separation

How do people look at disposing waste correctly? And how important is this to them? This depends, for example, on personal standards and on people's awareness of the problems caused by not properly disposing waste.

Motivation and Commitment

Are people motivated enough to actually dispose of their waste the right way at the time they have to make a decision? For example, do they feel responsible enough? And do they expect some sort of short term personal effect of disposing or not disposing their waste correctly?


What is the standard with regard to waste collection and separation? Is or does it seem normal to dispose waste the right way? For example, if it's very clear what most people do or if it's very clear what is expected of people.

Image and identity

Does the desired behaviour match your identity or not? And does the desired behaviour damage or improve your image? This is especially important in public situations.

Effectiveness, control and feasibility

Do people feel that they are capable of doing what is wanted from them? Do they feel like they have control over it? And do they feel like it is feasible? This depends, for example, on the ease of waste separation is, the clarity of what is expected of people, and whether important organizations are committed to waste separation.

These buttons determine whether or not people return their waste the correct way. If you manage to push these buttons right, you can stimulate waste collection and waste separation. How exactly choices are made, which buttons are decisive, and how you can best push these buttons, depends on the situation. For example, on your target audience, the surroundings, who you are as an organization, and which behaviour you specifically want to provoke. If you want to stimulate waste collection and waste separation effectively, look specifically to your situation to find out how you can best push the right buttons.


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