Read the article in the Politico: Wasted Potential: The consequences of New York City’s recycling failure.

Our city’s residential recycling rate is 18% percent, meaning, only 18% of our trash is recycled; the rest ends up in the landfill. A partial reason for the failure of the program is “lack of financial incentives to reform behavior.”

Share your thoughts about the article. Were you shocked/surprised/unmoved by this statistic and others reported in the article?
Using what we learned in class about operant conditioning, what can be done to change this?
How can we change the behavior of consumers? What do you think would work for you? For your family? Friends?


How can we change the behavior of cities or manufactures? What about our school? Workplace?

One idea is shared in this 3-minute NPR podcast,, where Maine is looking into shifting recycling cost to the manufactures.
In your response identify positive/negative punishment and reinforcement. For example, manufactures having to absorb the cost of recycling would be a positive punishment, b/c the cost is “painful” and it was added.
Consumer choosing a product that is biodegradable will likely be a positive reinforcement. We chose something that will not harm the environment; therefore, we will likely feel good about ourselves. It would be a primary reinforcer too. If the product we purchased was cheaper as compared to other products, we would be reinforced by saving money. That would be the secondary reinforcer.