Best Practices in Household Waste Management

Our previous article explained the importance of waste classification and separation. This article covers the issues around waste separation practices at the household level.

Many factors influence an individual’s behaviour in managing waste. Individuals at the household level have many choices when it comes to managing waste such as that sent to landfills: reduce consumption or packaging, reuse goods, or recycle re-claimable materials. This article identifies a number of determinant factors influencing individual’s behaviour in managing waste by using the Fogg Behaviour Change model. Based on this model, for a behaviour to occur, three elements must happen at the same moment (Motivation, Ability, and a Prompt/Trigger). When a behaviour does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing. The target behaviours that we will analyse by using this model at the household level are: (1) good waste separation practices; and (2) waste recycling and reuse practices.

john-cameron-1060002-unsplashHousehold Waste. Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash


Many factors can influence an individual’s motivation around good waste management behaviour. Using the Fogg Behaviour Change model, an individual’s motivations can be classified into three: moral motivation (measures the importance of feeling good about oneself/pleasure), environmental motivation (relates to the anticipation of environmental benefits), and social motivation (measures the importance of neighbours/social approval). For example, an individual may know that separating, reusing and recycling waste are good practices but they may not have enough motivation to do so. “I am too lazy to separate garbage. It is wasting time” said one survey respondent in Pasar Minggu, Jakarta. “I just throw everything into one bin.” said another respondent. “I separate plastic and kitchen waste at home, but in the end the garbage truck mixes the rubbish again.” said another survey respondent in Tebet, South Jakarta.

bernard-hermant-657000-unsplashRecycling and Reuse. Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash


Ability is one of the main factors that needs to be present when it comes to behaviour change. This component reflects on whether an individual is capable of performing the target behaviour. Several factors related to ability include knowledge, skills, social support, time and money. Ideally, good knowledge regarding environmental issues can contribute to good practical ability in managing waste. However, there are other factors such as skills (skills in separating waste, skills in recycling materials), and social supports (whether other people around an individual support good practices).

For example, one family member may start to recycle and reuse paint containers to grow plants, or start composting at home, thus social support from other family members will be important. Affordability is a factor, in order to provide different bins for waste separation at home, or to buy tools to recycle and reuse waste materials. Indonesian households usually just have one bin for all waste, and they usually place it in a central location in the home rather than in many rooms. The bins are normally are served by a daily schedule of waste collection. Waste that is to be collected from the household for disposal is placed in various types of waste storage containers located in front of houses, such as plastic waste bins, constructed garbage pits or plastic bags.


For a target behaviour to occur, both motivation and ability factors must be present and external triggers are still required even when both ability and motivation are high. A trigger can be defined as something that encourages people to perform a behaviour. A trigger can come in various forms such as communication campaigns, or via numerous communication channels including social media. A famous influencer on Instagram can be a role model who triggers others to perform new behaviours; for example, actor and campaigner Leonardo DiCaprio (@leonardodicaprio) often makes posts about environmental issues.

Segmentation is necessary

One of the methods for implementing the Fogg model in developing waste management campaigns is by identifying target audiences based on their levels of motivation, ability, and the availability of triggers. That is why segmentation of target audiences is needed in developing waste management campaigns as one single approach cannot reach all targets. For example, where an individual lacks motivation to perform a target behaviour, a trigger should be designed with a motivational element. Communication campaigns can be used as triggers to increase individual’s motivations.

Other interventions may be required to improve an individual’s ability in managing waste, for example by conducting training and capacity building in recycling, composting, reuse. This type of trigger is appropriate for users that have high motivation but lack ability. The goal of the facilitator is to trigger the behaviour while also making the behaviour easier to achieve. A facilitator can be integrated via text, video, graphics, and other mediums.

The next article on Environmental Issues will cover how the recycled waste system works in Indonesia.

Editor: Yani Lauwoie

Published by

Heribertus Rinto Wibowo

A public health enthusiast, passionate about the science of health promotion, tobacco control and social determinants of health.

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