Scrap every Sunday: behavioral analysis of a church-centered aluminum recycling program

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The methods of applied behavioral science were used in developing and evaluating a program of resource recovery in a number of local Presbyterian churches. Household aluminum scrap was collected and sold to a local recycling center, and the proceeds were contributed to the established 'Halt Hunger' program of the Presbyterian, U.S., denomination. Behavioral interventions were prompts, proximity of collection container, and feedback; the dependent variable was pounds of aluminum recycled. Results indicated that smaller churches which used frequent prompts tended to have larger collections of aluminum; the location of the collection container did not significantly influence the size of the aluminum collections. Contributing the proceeds from the recycled aluminum to an established church program was reported by participants to be an important incentive for collecting aluminum scrap. Because volunteers collected and transported the scrap aluminum, the program was markedly cost effective.