Nudging makes it easier for Svenska Bostäder’s tenants to sort their waste

Svenska Bostäder och Nudgd has received funding from Avfall Sverige to increase recycling and improve order in the housing company’s recycling rooms. Avfall Sverige is the municipalities’ industry organization within waste management. They have recently launched a new sign system that will make it easier to sort waste correctly. Svenska Bostäder will now use the new signs in its properties. In connection with this, they also want to test nudging for behavior change.

Today, recycling and waste management works poorly in many of Svenska Bostäder’s properties. Bulky waste ends up in the wrong place and tenants complain about messy recycling rooms, due to people sorting their waste wrongly or not at all. This becomes a vicious spiral where residents who want to recycle find it difficult to do it right, resulting in complaints and increased cost for waste waste management.

Behavioral analysis is the first step

In this project, Nudgd will work with behavioral analysis to find out why waste management works poorly. We also want to investigate whether there are differences between different areas and different types of properties. Since Svenska Bostäder’s properties are located all over Stockholm, and in many types of areas, the solutions vary depending on the residential area’s conditions. For example, older houses often have poorer conditions for recycling rooms. We already know that socio-economic factors affect the recycling rate.

Based on the behavioral analysis, we design nudges and test these in parallel in different areas – with different conditions – within Svenska Bostäder’s housing stock. In this way, it is possible to design decision-making situations that facilitate sustainable choices, no matter how and where you live.

This situation is not unique to Svenska Bostäder. Nudgd has several customers in the real estate industry who are all struggling with this problem. Thus, we are happy to have the chance to work on this project. Our hope is to create scalable models for behavioral change that can also be used by others, in order to make waste management work better in different types of areas and properties. This benefits residents, housing companies and the planet!

Facts: How can nudging make it easier to recycle?

Nudging is a cost-effective method to achieve behavioral change in waste management. An effective nudge is to illustrate the recycling rate in individual households or an area, in relation to the neighbors. This nudge uses social norms – the social nature of man makes those who perform worse than the average want to improve. The method was recently tested in the municipalities of Partille and Varberg and resulted in a reduction in household residual waste by 7–12 percent.

In the Stockholm suburb of Hökarängen, different variants of the message “In this area, we recycle” were used in a campaign, which led to an increased amount of sorted food waste by as much as 42%.

Even simpler types of regular feedback to households about the amount of recycled waste have proven to work well, as well as other types of communication linked to social norms. Other scientifically proven nudges for recycling and waste reduction are to make people sign a pledge to recycle more and to change the design of the waste containers. Another way is to work with the signs so that they are clear, simple and helpful. For example, a well-designed question on the signs can interrupt people’s automatic (bad) sorting habits.

Are you curious to find out more about the project?
Please contact
[email protected], Project Manager

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