Author(s): Fell D, Cox J, Wilson DC
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Abstract This short report presents one strand of the findings from a comprehensive synthesis review of the available evidence on household waste prevention. The aim here is to reflect on evidence regarding the decoupling of economic growth and negative environmental impacts, as well as existing work on modelling and forecasting household waste prevention. Decoupling was found to be a contested term, both conceptually and in terms of practical application, and evidence that it can be achieved was often weak or ambiguous. Modelling, as a tool to explain current waste prevention behaviours, was found to suffer from weaknesses in understanding complex human behaviours and lack of data, and key studies were only able to explain around 30\% of observed changes in waste prevention behaviour. Existing models and forecasts of the future growth of waste were therefore found to be largely speculative. These reflections have provided a number of insights for progressing household waste prevention, including the need for a mix of hard (i.e. fiscal, regulatory and service provision) and soft (i.e. behaviour change) measures, though environmental, behavioural, economic and political barriers are also recognized. Among the conclusions is that decoupling as a concept has limited value in terms of developing specific interventions, while recommendations relevant to policy makers and local authorities include the need for further data accumulation and conceptual work to improve modelling and forecasting.
This article was published in Waste Manag Res
and referenced in Journal of Civil & Environmental Engineering