Behavioral aspects of solid waste management: A systematic review

Sumana Jagadeshi Raghu, Lewlyn L.R. Rodrigues

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past three decades, research on the established linkages between solid waste management and psychological models has progressed rapidly. This informs statutory bodies that wish to design an effective solid waste management system. To further address this crucial task, this paper examined the existing literature on behavioral approaches applied to the study of solid waste. Through a systematic literature review approach, we identified, analyzed, and synthesized available literature across various geographical regions. Based on an analysis of 80 articles, we found that high-income countries (61%) are overrepresented in the existing literature, in which the USA (44%) has contributed the most. Most articles targeted recycling behavior (59%) by applying individual behavior theories (90%), in which the theory of planned behavior was widely tested (46%). In addition, 65% of the articles conducted model testing and 51% conducted empirical studies, revealing a dearth of evaluation studies in the literature. Cluster analyses revealed that psychological factors, comprising 34 variables, were extensively used, allowing future researchers to explore relevant variables from inter-disciplinary domains by adopting a pragmatic paradigm approach. In summary, this review identified four research gaps, recommended paths for future research, and concluded by highlighting the need of investigating social elements to tackle solid waste issues. Implications: The systematic review presented in this paper is an original contribution to the aforementioned body of knowledge. It makes the case for more researchers, teachers, and students to undertake behavioral projects, thus creating awareness among citizens to participate in waste management activities. The research gaps identified here also highlight the scope for future studies in under-explored areas and in the implementation of pro-environmental models to build a clean and green environment. Furthermore, the findings facilitate the formulation of pro-environmental laws, regulations, and policies in developing countries, where there is a higher need for strict environmental regulations focused on sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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