Do E-Waste Laws Create Behavioral Spillovers? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from California

Suvrat Dhanorkar, Suresh Muthulingam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many governing bodies have launched efforts to shape the operations of manufacturers, administration of civic entities, and behavior of individuals to limit waste generation. Typically, such efforts commence with the enactment of targeted legislations that create operational changes (e.g., recycling fees, collection centers) to the waste collection and disposal processes. For example, over 25 states in the United States have enacted legislations that aim to properly dispose used electronic and electrical goods (i.e., e-waste) and divert such waste away from landfills. We argue that such legislations can have an impact that extends beyond just reducing e-waste. This is because such laws may not only motivate individuals to restrict e-waste but also induce broader behavioral spillovers that can prompt individuals to reduce waste in general. To explore this idea, we exploit a quasi-experimental setup that arises from California's enactment of the Electronic Waste Recycling Act (EWRA). Specifically, a difference-in-differences analysis reveals that the introduction and implementation of the EWRA resulted in at least 4.93% reduction in municipal solid waste (MSW). A plausibility analysis illustrates that these MSW reductions are much larger than what can be attributed purely to the decline of e-waste. Furthermore, we show that the effect of e-waste laws is stronger when consumers have increased market access through (i) online connectivity and (ii) offline proximity. Our study informs policy makers on the effects of e-waste legislation and the critical role of market access in enhancing the impact of such legislation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1738-1766
Number of pages29
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Volume29
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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