Objectives: The waste problem is deepening with the advent of the Anthropocene. The United Nations emphasizes urgent actions needed to prevent the over-extraction of resources and to improve waste management through Sustainable Development Goal 12, and the South Korean government enacts waste management policies for creating a sustainable resource-circulating society. This study aims to examine psychological and socioeconomic factors associated with waste management behaviors with a focus on cohort differences in South Korea.
Methods: Binary logistic regression was used to analyze data came from an online survey conducted by the Korea Environment Institute (N=1,071; age range=16-59). Waste management behaviors were assessed with questions about whether respondents were recycling and avoiding the use of disposables.
Results: The results of descriptive analysis showed that older cohorts were more likely to recycle and not use disposable items compared to younger ones. In addition, the results of binary logistic regression analysis showed that environmental attitudes as well as psychological factors—such as perceived level of convenience and efficacy related to their behaviors—were statistically significantly associated with waste management behaviors even after controlling for socioeconomic factors such as income and housing type.
Conclusions: The findings imply that public policies and programs changing environmental attitudes and perceived convenience and efficacy would be effective in promoting recycling and waste reduction behaviors. Furthermore, older cohorts, especially baby boomers, not only have a greater responsibility for the emergence of the Anthropocene, but also a potential to become an agent of change for solving the waste problem.