An EU recycling target: What does the Dutch evidence tell us?

Elbert Dijkgraaf, RHJM (Raymond) Gradus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The European Union (EU) advocates a household waste recycling rate of more than 65 %. Although the Netherlands has already invested heavily in recycling policies, this is still a big challenge as nowadays this rate is approximately 50 % on average and very few no municipalities have a rate above 65 %. Given this practice, it is possible to learn from the Dutch experience which policies are effective in increasing recycling rates. Based on a large panel data set for the Netherlands, we show that unit-based pricing, avoiding a duo-bin for unsorted and compostable waste, and reducing the frequency of collecting unsorted and compostable waste at the curbside are effective in raising the recycling rate. However, only a bag-based pricing system has a substantial effect, but this policy can have some adverse effects. Other unit-based pricing systems have effects of less than 10 % points. In nearly all cases, changing the frequency of collection of recyclables has no or very small effects. Moreover, the complementarity between unit-based pricing and curbside service is low. Overall, it seems very difficult to reach the EU goal of 65 % with the policies applied.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-526
Number of pages26
JournalEnvironmental and Resource Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2017


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