Waste Receptacle Designs as Interventions for Litter Control

Geller, E. S., Brasted, W. S. & Mann, M. F. (1979). Waste receptacle designs as interventions for litter control. Journal of Environmental Systems, 9, 2, 145-160.

Two experiments in an indoor shopping mall examined relationships between trash-receptacle design and litter-disposal behaviors. For the first study, the trash deposited in six trash receptacles was weighed three times a week for forty-one weeks. For the intervention two of the standard shopping-mall receptacles were replaced with two obtrusive receptacles that were shaped like birds and conveyed an antilitter prompt. The ABABA design showed the bird cans to attract substantially more litter than the unobtrusive receptacles (e.g., an overall weekly average of 15.05 lbs. per bird can vs. 9.34 lbs. per regular can). Litter counts showed markedly less litter in the vicinity of the bird receptacles. For the second experiment the litter items in three ash trays were systematically dichotomized (and counted) as appropriate or inappropriate disposals on forty-eight consecutive days. A direct relationship between ash tray-trash can proximity and the frequency of appropriate ash-tray disposals was consistently found. For example, daily averages of 22.19 appropriate and 2.64 inappropriate disposals were obtained with a special receptacle containing separate areas for ash-tray and trash-can litter; whereas these means were 3.17 appropriate versus 16.33 inappropriate disposals for an ash tray that was located more than 100 ft. from a trash can.

Find this article online
Site Courtesy of
McKenzie-Mohr & Associates

Expertise in Community-Based Social Marketing