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2012-2013 China Seminar Series

The Role of NGOs in Urban Recycling Programs - Shanghai Case Study - Marie Harder

Event Date and Location

Thursday, January 31, 12:00-1:30pm - Urban Center Room 220


What does it take to get urban residents to sort out their food waste for recycling? In cities around the world, this is becoming an urgent question as the amount of waste generated becomes an increasingly serious problem in terms of cost, environmental damage and sanitation.

Waste managers try new schemes annually. Behavior scientists offer theories that so far are not predictive. A major difficulty is that the parameters involved are seldom testable in a manner that allows the building of a base of knowledge that is generalizable. Container types, instructions, educational approaches, fines, incentives – what combinations will work?

Shanghai, China has thousands of gated communities which house more than half of its population, which provide excellent miniature ‘laboratories’ to examine different schemes. Since 2011 the government has been trying to roll out a food waste sorting and recycling program, and this talk presents early work exploring an important current question: how and why can NGOs facilitate success? Two communities with and two without NGO assistance were monitored via primary baseline and subsequent data collection on waste tonnages, observations and interviews. Preliminary results indicate that the NGOs provide a ‘localization’ effect which has related impact on determinants from behavior change theories. Diversion rates of 50-80% were measured over several months.


To be added.