Project Information

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

Project Information

Project Title
"Promoting recycling behaviour: Insights into the interaction of individual and contextual factors"

University of Groningen - Social psychology

PhD Student
Josefine Geiger

Prof.dr. Linda Steg (University of Groningen)
dr. Ellen van der Werff (University of Groningen)
dr. Berfu Unal (University of Groningen)

16 March 2015 - 15 March 2019

External sources: TIFN (Top Institute Food and Nutrition)


Recycling has a positive impact on the retrieval of secondary raw materials and reduces greenhouse gas emissions (European Commission, 2014). However, only 49% of the municipal waste was recycled and composted in the Netherlands in 2012 (European Environment Agency, 2015). The aim of the European Union is to increase this number to a minimum of 70% by 2030 (European Commission, 2014). Research indicates that both individual factors (e.g., personal and social norms, recycling attitudes; Schultz, 1999; Schwab, Harton, & Cullum, 2014) and contextual factors (e.g., collection system, local circumstances; Hage & Soederholm, 2007; Schultz, Oskamp, Mainieri, 1995) affect recycling behaviour. Yet, research on recycling behaviour has mostly examined the influence of these factors separately. In this PhD project, we will study how individual and contextual factors interact in affecting people’s recycling behaviour. We propose that it is essential to explicitly consider the psychological implications of contextual factors, and the interplay of individual and contextual factors in order to understand individuals’ recycling behaviour. This is especially relevant in the Netherlands where many different collection systems exist. Thereby, this PhD project will make the goal to reach recycling rates of 70% by 2030 more feasible.

European Environment Agency (2015). Cross-country comparisons. Waste – municipal solid waste generation and management. Retrieved from

European Union, European Commission (2014). Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directives 2008/98/EC on waste, 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste, 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste, 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles, 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, and 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment. Retrieved from

Hage, O., & Söderholm, P. (2008). An econometric analysis of regional differences in household waste collection: The case of plastic packaging waste in sweden. Waste Management, 28(10), 1720-1731.

Schultz, P. W. (1999). Changing behavior with normative feedback interventions: A field experiment on curbside recycling. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 21(1), 25-36.

Schultz, P. W., Oskamp, S., & Mainieri, T. (1995). Who recycles and when? A review of personal and situational factors.Journal of environmental psychology, 15(2), 105-121.

Schwab, N., Harton, H. C., & Cullum, J. G. (2014). The effects of emergent norms and attitudes on recycling behavior. Environment and Behavior, 46(4), 403-422.

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