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Whitaker Ideas Forum: Maeve McArdle, The Reasons Reveal

November 15, 2017 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: CA110 (SAC Room), Cairnes Building, NUI Galway Galway Ireland

Affiliation: Social Innovation, Participation and Policy (SIPPs) Research Cluster

Organised by: Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change, NUI Galway

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The Fall 2017 Whitaker Ideas Forum series continues on 15 November with a seminar by Maeve McArdle of the SIPPs research cluster on the topic of ‘The Reasons Reveal‘.

Current global consumption patterns are unsustainable. The traditional linear consume-dispose system is putting huge stress on the earth’s resources. The EU’s action plan for a circular economy seeks to address this by closing the loop in the value chain, from production through to consumption and waste management (European Commission, 2015). Arguably the most important step in achieving a closed loop recycling system occurs when consumers purchase products made from recycled content. But consumers are failing to make these purchases and this points to a gap. A clear understanding of this gap, sometimes described as a value action gap, is necessary to develop interventions and change behaviour. The behaviour intention model of the Behavioural Reasoning Theory (BRT) chosen to examine this gap posits that reasons (both for and against) serve as important linkages between values, motives, intention and behaviour. Testing Westaby’s (2005) BRT in the context of closing the loop behaviour required revealing the reasons why some people choose to buy recycled products and others don’t.

Reasons as explained by Westaby are personal and context specific and therefore require a bespoke elucidation study. The objective of the qualitative phase of the study was to determine the context specific reasons shoppers use to justify and defend their reasons for and against closing the loop for recycled paper products. This elucidation study combined two data collection methods; an exploratory focus group and a series of qualitative interviews, the sampling method employed was a non-probability snowball sample. The identified reasons then served to inform the reasons construct adopted in the quantitative phase. The BRT model applied in this context provides a useful framework to examine the value action gap in the recycling system from a social marketing perspective.