Plastic is one of the most predominantly used materials in our modern economy due to its cheap, light, and versatile nature. While it make our day-to-day lives more convenient, there is an increasing concern over plastic consumption because of the related economic losses and major environmental impacts in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. An increasing number of governments have acted in response, passing policies to curb plastic production and consumption, including the banning of single-use plastic bags and straws as well as the implementation of plastic container refund systems. Such policies have been adopted by some states in the U.S. in order to reduce plastic use and promote recycling efforts. However, little is known about which variables, including policies, socio-economic factors, and environmental conditions, affect recycling rates.
This study aims to identify determinants that may affect the recycling rates of different states. Utilizing data of the recycling rates of different states in the past ten years, a multi-level model has been developed in this study in which demographic, political, socio-economic and environmental factors were analyzed. This study also accounts for the influence of sustainability movements of cities in each state. The results of this study will provide critical information on the factors which are most influential in the promotion of recycling rates. This will allow for state governments to take a more active role when collaborating with local governments and private sectors to increase public awareness of recycling and in the development of recycling infrastructures.
- Younsung Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor, George Mason University