Improving Participation in a Newspaper Recycling Program in Apartment Complexes Using Prompts

Reid, D. H., Luyben, P. D., Rawers, R. J. & Bailey, J. S. (1976). Newspaper recycling behavior: the effects of prompting and proximity of containers. Environment and Behavior, 8, 471-481.
A literature review revealed that prompts are an effective method to improve participation in recycling programs. Furthermore, recycling increases when containers are in close proximity to garbage receptacles. Therefore, these behaviour change tools were incorporated into an existing recycling program in hopes of improving participation. The existing program had a paper recycling container placed in the laundry room of four apartment complexes. Then, residents were contacted via door to door interviews where they were asked newspaper and biographical information. This encounter lasted less that five minutes and took place on the evening prior to the first day of treatment. The next day, two recycling receptacles were placed by garbage dumpsters in parking lots. Therefore, the new containers were in close proximity to the trash cans. In addition, there were prompts on the receptacles identifying them as paper recycling containers. In order to obtain objective measurement, the recycled paper was weighed daily and compared to baseline measurement taken before the intervention.

There was an increase of over 50% in the weight of recycled paper following the implementation of prompts and proximity.
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