Recycling Behavior among Urban South Africans: The Role of Race and Social Status

Barbara A. Anderson, University of Michigan
John H. Romani, University of Michigan
Marie Wentzel, Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC)
Heston Phillips, UNAIDS

This paper examines household recycling by urban households in South Africa. Race remains an important factor in almost all aspects of South African life. African households express much greater concern with environmental pollution than do non-African households. However, non-African households are much more likely to recycle than African households. Non-African urban households show a typical pattern of a greater tendency to recycle, the higher the education of head of household. Among African households, education of household head has no relation to recycling until the head has a college degree. Due to Apartheid-era restrictions, urban Africans have not been urban for very long. Evidence is presented that the lesser tendency of African households to recycle is a legacy of Apartheid, during which there was little reason for Africans to contribute to the public good.

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Presented in Session 49: Population and Environment