The Influence of Social Norms on Recycling Behavior in Urban Multifamily Buildings

Investigator: Stony Brook University

The primary goal of this proposal is to test the influence of social norms on recycling behavior in multifamily buildings in the New York City area. Recycling rates for multifamily buildings are lower than single family homes, and even when residents are knowledgeable about what is recyclable, knowledge of non-recyclables lags, leading to significant contamination. While multifamily recycling research strongly emphasizes the role of convenience in increasing recycling, once such structural characteristics are in place there is a need to look to behavioral factors to see further gains. While social norm-based interventions are well-studied in the energy field, there is less work in this area for recycling research, highlighting an important gap.
The objectives of the research are to:
  1. Assess the effectiveness of social-norm based interventions on household recycling behavior in multifamily buildings
  2. Determine if significant differences in effectiveness exist between two different social norm-based interventions – peer pressure and competition
  3. Develop outcomes and recommendations that form the basis for replicability in buildings of other sizes, types, and uses