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Title: Designing for sustainable behaviour in high-density space : household and community participation in waste recycling in Hong Kong
Authors: Xiao, Jia Xin
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: In recent decades, recycling has been considered one of the most effective measures for tackling imminent environmental problems. Environmentalists, researchers, designers and policymakers have made tremendous efforts to reduce and recycle waste. Studies on education, management, economic incentives, social norms and policies have been developed to encourage public participation in recycling. As well as fiscal policies, regulations and economic incentives, design and management play important roles in changing human behaviour. However, studies of design for sustainable recycling behaviour referring to social culture and physical environment have not been examined systematically, especially with regard to high-rise and high-density cities. The high-rise living situation and constructed communities in Hong Kong differ greatly from the neighbourhoods composed of single-storey or low-rise buildings, making it challenging to practise waste separation in both public and private spaces. Over the past few years, local authorities have implemented a variety of policies, strategies and ordinances including newly designed public facilities to encourage residents to participate in recycling. Meanwhile, various communities and non­governmental organisations (NGOs) have undertaken numerous campaigns and activities to facilitate public participation in waste recycling. However, due to a lack of consideration for local culture and human factors, current design and management for recycling have failed to change undesired behaviour. Compared to other developed cities, Hong Kong's household waste recycling rate is still low at only 40%. This study takes design for sustainable recycling behaviour in Hong Kong as a case study and focuses on household recycling in high-density space. It explores design opportunities for household recycling by answering four research questions: (1) What factors affect sustainable recycling behaviour? (2) What are people's perceptions of existing design and management of waste recycling in Hong Kong? (3) What are the limitations and challenges in public design for recycling, with attention to particular high-rise, high-density living environments? (4) How can human behaviour be effectively influenced through design?
This study used both qualitative and quantitative methods. Questionnaires were distributed to random participants to identify what factors influence sustainable recycling behaviour and people's attitudes. Observations and interviews were conducted across time and space dimensions in different research periods. Several cases were selected with the aim of gaining an in-depth understanding of people's behaviour and living contexts. Action research, which was the most time-consuming phase of the study, was adopted to test the model and identify how to improve design for behaviour change. Through a theoretical review of influencing human behaviour from different perspectives, this study illustrates the significance of context and the challenges of influencing sustainable behaviour through design. It has been suggested that not only personal factors such as norms and attitudes but also the environmental setting, including social and physical factors, affect actual behaviour. Supported by a point proposed by Lilley (2009) and Lockton (2013), the balance between design interventions and user performance should be carefully configured because inappropriate or problematic interventions might lead to annoyance and frustration. People's experiences and responses must not be ignored because they ensure the effectiveness of design interventions. Based on theoretical discussions and empirical findings, this study emphasises that residents' satisfaction with recycling networks and the perceived quality of environments are positively associated with sustainable recycling behaviour. It is suggested that not only the physical setting but also the social environment and the residents' satisfaction must be taken into consideration in sustainability studies. This study provides a framework of contextual information encompassing physical, social and socio-cultural contexts. The significance of contextual factors for improving household recycling and design opportunities is addressed. Intervention and collaboration are identified as two main approaches to influence human behaviour. Moreover, changing human behaviour via design requires an in-depth understanding of people's needs, acceptances and responses along with the social effects of the interventions in the context of their particular situation. This study also identifies four behaviour models and the applicability of design interventions and collaboration in changing behaviour.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Refuse and refuse disposal -- China -- Hong Kong
Recycling (Waste, etc.) -- China -- Hong Kong
Recycling (Waste, etc.) -- China -- Hong Kong -- Public opinion
Pages: xx, 233 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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