An Analysis of Determinants of Consumer’S Recycling Behavior

ABSTRACT - The purpose of this paper is to understand the motivation of consumer participation in recycling activities, and to show the reason why we cannot participate in recycling behavior. This study is devoted to examining the critical factors surrounding recycling behavior. The results showed that past behavior was more effective than attitude in predicting recycling behavior. And the findings suggest that consumer’s involvement play an important role in recycling behavior. Finally, theoretical and managerial implications of these findings are discussed.



Citation:

Michiyo Aoki (2005) ,"An Analysis of Determinants of Consumer’S Recycling Behavior", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, eds. Yong-Uon Ha and Youjae Yi, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 322-325.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, 2005      Pages 322-325

AN ANALYSIS OF DETERMINANTS OF CONSUMER’S RECYCLING BEHAVIOR

Michiyo Aoki, Tamagawa University, Japan

ABSTRACT -

The purpose of this paper is to understand the motivation of consumer participation in recycling activities, and to show the reason why we cannot participate in recycling behavior. This study is devoted to examining the critical factors surrounding recycling behavior. The results showed that past behavior was more effective than attitude in predicting recycling behavior. And the findings suggest that consumer’s involvement play an important role in recycling behavior. Finally, theoretical and managerial implications of these findings are discussed.

INTRODUCTION

Today, the rapidly increase in household garbage is a serious problem or public policy in the world. The convenience of our daily life often overrides environmental considerations to cause wastage of natural resources. We are reexamining our consumption and waste disposal patterns, faced with a threat of rapidly depleting natural resources. One obvious solution to this problem is to reduce our consumption levels, and the other solution is to reduce our wastage. We know that recycling has emerged as an important means by which wastage can be reduced. However, this recycle system cannot work very well. Why we cannot participate in recycling behavior?

The purpose of this paper is to understand the motivation of consumer participation in recycling activities, and to show the reason why we cannot participate in recycling behavior. This study is devoted to examining the critical factors surrounding recycling behavior. The results may present implications for the development of marketing strategies for recycling.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Barns (1982) examined recycling as a marketing problem. He predicts that changes in channel structure will probably occur as recycling incentives increase. He has pointed out that reverse logistics are needed for the future recycling system.

Although a large number of studies have been made on the recycling behavior (see Shrum et.al 1994), a little is known about consumer motivation of recycling behavior. There are two kinds of approach to this theme. The first approach is to explain the reason why consumers do not participate recycling activities. This research examines factors which affect recycling activities. For example, Bagozzi and Dabholkar (1994) test the theory of reasoned action (e.g., Ajzen and Fishbein 1980) as an explanation of recycling behavior. The theory of reasoned action hypothesizes that intentions are direct determinate of behavior and are influenced by attitudes, and subjective norms toward the behavior. Bagozzi and Dabholkar (1994) explore more fully the determinants of attitudes, subjective norms, and past behavior as they relate to recycling. To test hypotheses implied by this theory, regression analyses were used. The results showed that attitudes and past behavior affected intentions, but subjective norms did not. Past behavior had about twice the impact of attitudes. Similarly, Dahab , Gentry and Su (1995) examined the effect of various factors on recycling by regression analyses after they defined the word of "recycle" as a purchase and reuse of the product made from recycled materials. They showed that past recycling activities affected the recycling behavior, but attitudes and subjective norms did not. However, the measure of attitude is not correct in their study, the results have a problem of attitude specification.

The second approach is to explain how the value for the purchase of recycled products is formed. For example, Bei and Simpson (1995) investigated the determinants of consumers’ purchase probabilities toward eleven recycled products based on Thaler’s (1983, 1985) acquisition-transaction utility theory, which suggested that consumers’ purchase probabilities depended on the received value compared to the purchased cost. Bei and Simpson (1995) introduced the notion of "psychological benefit" from the purchase of recycled products which covered consumer’s attitude and feeling about buying recycled products. The results showed that psychological benefit from the recycled products was positively related to the probability of purchasing the products. Nonami et. al (1997) investigated the effects of cognitive variables on recycling behavior in a path analysis model. This model included three determinants of behavior intention: evaluation of feasibility, cost and benefits, and social norms. The results showed that social norms affected recycling behavior. The evaluation of cost and benefit, affected behavioral intentions.

CONCEPTUAL MODEL AND HYPOTHESES

The objective of the present study is to understand the motivation of consumer participation in recycling activities. Previous studies have tested the theory of reasoned action (e.g., Ajzen and Fishbein 1980) as an explanation of recycling behavior. Therefore, we intended to test the theory of reasoned action in our hypothesized model of the present study. We hypothesize the perceived benefit of recycling may motivate the recycling behavior.

Previous studies suggested several factors which were associated with consumer’s recycling behavior, such as, attitude and past behavior (e.g. Bagozzi and Dabholkar 1994). Subjective Norms did not affect the recycling behavior in any previous studies, but social norms affected the recycling behavior (e.g. Nonami et. al 1997) . Therefore, we added these three factors in our hypothesized equation model for recycling behavior. This model is illustrated as follows:

Recycling Behavior = Perceived Benefit + Attitude toward Recycling + Social Norm + Past Behavior [1]

Perceived Benefit = Cost + Benefit [2]

We hypothesize that recycling behavior is a function of perceived benefit, attitudes toward the act of recycling, social norms, and past behavior. In this study, the motivational component of recycling activities may also be derived from the perceived benefit of the activities. If an individual perceived that recycling would bring about the desired social outcome, he or she would be more motivated to act. While attitudes are hypothesized to be important in the recycling decision, the motivational factor will moderate the relationship between attitude and behavior. Recent research in consumer behavior and social psychology has focused on the concept of involvement as an important moderator of the amount and type of information processing elicited by persuasive communication (Petty, Cacioppo and Schumann 1983). We suggest that consumer’s involvement will be positively related to the motivation of recycling behavior. When consumer’s involvement is high, their motivation of recycling will be high. In this situation, recycling behavior will be more affected by the theory of reasoned action. When consumer’s involvement is low, they will do systematic recycling activities by custom. In this situation, past behavior will have an important effect. This leads to the following hypotheses.

H1: The lower the consumers’ involvement to recycle, the greater the effect of the past behavior for recycling.

H2: When consumers’ involvement to recycle is high, the effect of attitudes and social norms will be greater than that of the past behavior for recycling.

TABLE 1

CORRELATION MATRIX FOR SCALES USED IN THIS STUDY

TABLE 2

RESULTS OF STANDARDIZED REGRESSION ANALYSES

METHOD

Subjects and Procedure

The data for the study were collected from consumer monitors by mail survey in February 2002. The sample consisted of 1531(876 male and 655 female) respondents. The measures for the study were all contained within a questionnaire booklet.

Measures

The recycling questions asked how frequently the respondents recycled new papers, and how frequently they recycled cans and bottles. The behaviors were measured on five-point scales from "very seldom" to "very frequently." The measure of social norm was five-point scales with response choices ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree." We defined "Social Norm" in this study according to the previous study (Nonami et. al 1997). That is an individual’s perceived informal community rule that dictates the members of society ought to engage in recycling. The social norm scale consisted of two items that asked if "people in this community expect me to recycle specific materials, that is, newspaper, can and bottles."

Attitudes were measured with the item "Would you describe your attitude toward recycling activity," with the following response alternative recorded: "unfavorable," "neither unfavorable nor favorable," "somewhat favorable," "quite favorable," "extremely favorable" ( Bagozzi and Dabholkar 1994) . Recycling cost and benefit were measured with three aspects, that were economical cost and benefit, labor cost and benefit, and time cost and benefit. Past behavior was measured by the frequency of recycling activity. We measured respondents’ levels of involvement in recycling activity as follows. Respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed with the statement that "I think I am concerned with recycling activity" in 5-point scale ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

First, we examined the correlations between the independent variables. The results are shown in Table 1. The correlations were relatively low in Table 1, so, we could use the regression analysis to test the hypotheses. All of the variables were tested as continuous variables using multiple regression analysis. The results of standardized regression analyses are shown in Table 2-4.

In Table 3 and Table 4, all of coefficients of past behavior were significant at 0.1% level. Therefore, we used these results to test Hypothesis 1. Hypothesis 1 predicts that the lower consumer’s involvement to recycle, the greater the effect of the past behavior for recycling.

In the case of newspaper, standardized coefficient of past behavior is 0.425 (high involvement)<0.618 (low involvement), this is in the support of the expected relationship. In the case of can and bottles, the relationship are almost the same, that are 0.404 (high involvement)<0.811 (low involvement), 0.418 (high involvement)<0.727 (low involvement), respectively. Therefore, Hypothesis 1 was supported.

Hypothesis 2 suggests that the effect of attitudes and social norms will be greater than the effect of the past behavior for recycling in the case of high involvement. In Table 3, when consumer’s involvement to recycle is high, coefficients of attitude were not significant except of the case of bottle recycling. In this case, the coefficient of attitude, social norm and past behavior was 0.173, 0.238, and 0.418, respectively. The coefficient of past behavior was greater than those of attitude and social norm. Therefore, Hypothesis 2 was not supported in this model.

TABLE 3

RESULTS OF STANDARDIZED REGRESSION ANALYSES (HIGH INVOLVEMENT)

TABLE 4

RESULTS OF STANDARDIZED REGRESSION ANALYSES (LOW INVOLVEMENT)

The results of this study are consistent with the findings of Bagozzi and Dabholkar (1994), in that past behavior enhances the predictive power of the model of reasoned action. In this study, consumer’s perceived benefits and costs have not significant effect on explaining recycling behavior. In geneal, we think that recycling involves a lot of costs. Therefore, consumers do not engage in recycling behavior. This explanation is quite reasonable, but the findings of this study suggest another reason.

Bagozzi and Dabholkar (1994) found that past behavior was more effective than attitude in predicting recycling intentions. Past behavior had about twice the impact of attitudes in their study. This drives us to the question whether recycling activities are goal-oriented action or not. Otherwise, recycling behavior may be a systematical custom behavior. In this case, consumers’ past behavior may also predict the experience of recycling behavior. The experience lower the effort required to participate in the recycling activities.

Discussion

The main purpose of this study was to understand the motivation of consumer participation in recycling activities. The first step was to build our hypothesized equation model for recycling behavior. We hypothesized that recycling behavior is a function of perceived benefits, attitudes toward the act of recycling, social norms, and past behavior. While attitudes are hypothesized to be important in the recycling decision, the motivational factor will moderate the relationship between attitude and behavior. In this study, we suggest that consumer’s involvement will be positively related to the motivation of recycling behavior. When consumer’s involvement is high, their motivation of recycling will be high. In this situation, recycling behavior will be more affected by the theory of reasoned action. When consumer’s involvement is low, they will do systematic recycling activities by custom. In this situation, past behavior will have an important effect.

The results in our study showed that past behavior was more effective than attitude in predicting recycling behavior in any case. These findings suggested that recycling activity would not be a reasoned action, but a systematic behavior in daily life. We know that custom makes recycling activity easy, and these experiences makes consumers’ involvement level high. In turn, these experiences improve consumer’s attitude toward the recycling activities. The important role of consumer research is to construct a smart recycling system and to show the way of enjoying the recycle behavior.

REFERENCES

Ajzen, I., and Fishbein, M. (1980), "Understanding Attitudes and Predicting Social Behavior," Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Aoki Michiyo 1994 "Evaluation of Green Products The Process of Recognizing Information and Forming Qualitative Judgments" Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Vo 1 36-42.

Bagozzi, R. P. and P. A. Dabholkar (1994), "Consumer Recycling Goals and Their Effect on Decisions to Recycle: A Means-End Chain Analysis," Psychology and Marketing, 11(4) 313-340.

Barnes, J. H. (1982), "Recycling: A Problem in Reverse Logistics," Journal of Macromarketing, 2 (Fall), 31-37.

Bei, L. T. and E. M. Simpson (1995), "The Determinants of Consumers’ Purchase Decisions for Recycled Products: An Application of Acquisition-Transaction Utility Theory, " Advances in Consumer Research, 22, 257-261.

Dahab, D. J., J. W. Gentry and W. S. Su (1995), "New Ways to Reach Non-Recyclers An Extension of the Model of Reasoned Action to Recycling Behaviors," Advances in Consumer Research, 22, 251-256.

Fishbein, M., and Ajzen, I. (1975), "Beliefs, Attitude, Intention, and Behavior: An Introduction to Theory and Research," Reading, Mass. Addison-Wesley.

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Thaler, R. (1985), "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, Vol. 4, No.3, 199-214.

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Authors

Michiyo Aoki, Tamagawa University, Japan



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6 | 2005



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