Individual vs Producer Responsibility

Within waste management, producers hold real power to emphasize sustainability and create meaningful change, but there is a trend where companies mold the responsibility of waste management to be that of the consumer in order to escape those responsibilities. The individualization of responsibility within waste management through recycling and anti-litter initiatives and language encouraging those initiatives normalizes that type of approach. One example of producers doing just that is Keep America Beautiful, a non-profit created by a group of producers (including PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company) which mostly focuses on littering as an environmental issue. While littering certainly is undesirable, it fails to recognize the producer role in manufacturing the undesirable packaging or product in the first place.

At the same time, individual changes can meaningfully reduce human impact on the planet without reducing quality of life. However, it is important to recognize that making these changes is difficult, something that is not often done in campaigns by producers to shift responsibility onto consumers. Understanding environmental decision making, though, can help us determine the best way to get people to make behavioral changes.

[Connecting Kathy and Grace's research]