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Hultman, Emilia, 2023. Changing everyday waste sorting practices : a qualitative study of the relation between organisational strategic communication and everyday waste sorting practices in Sweden. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



All EU member states are supposed to meet the EU goals for material recycling of consumer packaging waste. Despite having established systems for collection of packaging waste and recycling processes, Sweden has not been able to reach these goals. Now, responsibility for waste sorting has been moved from the producers to the municipalities, in the hope they by an overarching responsibility can meet the target goals. Municipalities are expected to implement a door-to-door waste collection system for private households, to increase the sorting and recycling rates of packaging waste.

However, while promising on paper, changes in people’s everyday practices are notoriously difficult to implement from above. Indeed, waste sorting practices are socially constituted and routinised, which makes them challenging to change. The aim of this study is twofold. First, the study is to provide basis for Vafabmiljö to establish a communication strategy. Second, the study is to explore how studies of everyday socio-environmental practices can inform communication for change. Through an interview study with municipal representatives, I identified the communication strategies used previously in waste collection system change. And, through a focus group with residents I got a better understanding of everyday waste sorting practices. Analysed with the help of strategic communication and social practice literature, I then study possibilities for communication for change of everyday waste sorting practices. I identify social interactions, contingency of materials and physical space, facilitation of the system and contexts as factors affecting motivations to sort waste.

By basing the communications strategy on these factors, I expect that residents can be engaged in the implementation process. It would provide a socially anchored communication that can motivate adoption of the new system and changed waste sorting practices. In the conclusion, I also come to a surprising insight, which is that environmental perspectives are largely absent in both the interview and the focus group study. What implications a decoupling between human-environmental relations in the sustainable waste management discourse can have, can be a subject for future research in environmental communication.

Main title:Changing everyday waste sorting practices
Subtitle:a qualitative study of the relation between organisational strategic communication and everyday waste sorting practices in Sweden
Authors:Hultman, Emilia
Supervisor:Joosse, Sofie and Bärudde, Karin
Examiner:Calderon, Camilo
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2023
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM026 Environmental communication and management - Master's programme
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:Strategic communication, social practice theory, environmental communication, waste sorting practices, municipal waste management, social change
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Deposited On:16 Jun 2023 06:37
Metadata Last Modified:17 Jun 2023 01:04

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