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Practice‐based spillover effects: Evidence from Calgary's municipal food and yard waste recycling pilot

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Analyzing the spillover effects of environmental interventions is vital for understanding how they contribute to broader societal transitions towards or away from sustainability. Past research analyzing spillover effects has produced inconsistent results, which we argue is in part due to its assumption that social life consists of rational and autonomous individuals. By contrast, we place practices as central units of inquiry, arguing that social practice theory opens up promising alternative sets of theoretical and methodological possibilities for analyzing spillover effects. Using the City of Calgary's municipal food and yard waste recycling pilot program known as the “Green Cart Pilot” (GCP) as a case study, we adopt a mixed methods approach to analyze practice‐based spillover effects (PSEs). The results suggest that the GCP had positive PSEs on dry recycling and food shopping, and negative PSEs on home composting. These PSEs could be tracked through the shared elements and geographies of mutually evolving practices, providing opportunities to respond with further interventions informed by social practice theory. Social practice theory offers a promising alternative framework through which to analyze spillover effects. We used mixed methods to analyze practice‐based spillover effects of the City of Calgary's “Green Cart Pilot.” We found both positive and negative practice‐based spillover effects transmitted through the shared elements and geographies of mutually evolving practices.
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Keywords: effets d'entraînement; environmental policy; mixed methods; méthodes mixtes; politique environnementale; recyclage; recycling; social practice theory; spillover effects; théorie de la pratique sociale

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2017

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