Post-collection Separation of Plastic Waste: Better for the Environment and Lower Collection Costs?

Elbert Dijkgraaf*, Raymond Gradus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The European Union advocates a plastic waste recycling rate of more than 55%. Even for the Netherlands, which has already invested heavily in recycling plastic waste of households, it will still be a challenge to meet this target. The preferred solution to fulfil this target in the Netherlands is implementing separate collection schemes at the curbside, although some municipalities invested in post-separation. We show, based on data for 2013–2014, that post-collection separation is an advisable alternative, with an increased separation of plastic waste compared with home separation. This is even slightly the case if home separation is combined with a unit-based pricing system for unsorted waste and with a frequent door-to-door collection of plastic waste. Moreover, there are indications that the cost effectiveness of recycling plastic waste increases if post separation is chosen. In addition, some claim that unit-based pricing of unsorted waste is important to create an awareness effect to buy less packaging material. However, based on the combination of post separation and unit-based pricing, we have no indication for such awareness effect as the price effect on the amount of plastic waste is insignificantly small.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-142
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental and Resource Economics
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • Cost effectiveness
  • Home separation
  • Plastic waste
  • Post separation
  • Recycling


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