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Using Behavioural Insights to Promote Food Waste Recycling in Urban Households—Evidence From a Longitudinal Field Experiment.

Linder, N., Lindahl, T., Borgström, S. 2018. Front. Psychol., Vol. 9. DOI:


Promoting pro-environmental behaviour amongst urban dwellers is one of today's greatest sustainability challenges. The aim of this study is to test whether an information intervention, designed based on theories from environmental psychology and behavioural economics, can be effective in promoting recycling of food waste in an urban area. To this end we developed and evaluated an information leaflet, mainly guided by insights from nudging and community-based social marketing. The effect of the intervention was estimated through a natural field experiment in Hökarängen, a suburb of Stockholm city, Sweden, and was evaluated using a difference-in-difference analysis. The results indicate a statistically significant increase in food waste recycled compared to a control group in the research area. The data analysed was on the weight of food waste collected from sorting stations in the research area, and the collection period stretched for almost 2 years, allowing us to study the short- and long term effects of the intervention. Although the immediate positive effect of the leaflet seems to have attenuated over time, results show that there was a significant difference between the control and the treatment group, even 8 months after the leaflet was distributed. Insights from this study can be used to guide development of similar pro-environmental behaviour interventions for other urban areas in Sweden and abroad, improving chances of reaching environmental policy goals.

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