Research experiment Behavioural Economics students leads to waste reduction

Wendelien Bakelaar, Niek de Neijs and Iris Böhm during their research experiment

In an attempt to reduce waste from advertising folders, Wendelien Bakelaar, Iris Böhm, Niek de Neijs and Tijmen Mulder, four students from the Master Behavioural Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, performed an experiment using no-no stickers (also known as “nee-nee” stickers). Their research led to a waste reduction of more than 2 tons in Rotterdam.

For their research, the four students distributed the no-no stickers in Rotterdam, using eight different types of messages and found that telling people that the folders and newspapers lead to 68 kg of waste per household per year is the best way to get them to use the no-no stickers. Interestingly, the four students also found that emphasising the impact on the environment is the least effective. After only one week, 33 stickers were applied, meaning that this experiment has led to a net reduction of 2,242.7 kg of waste in 2019 alone.

"It was a great experience to apply our knowledge in our very own city, and it is definitely satisfying that our master's programme has allowed us to make such a visible contribution to reducing unnecessary waste," says Wendelien. ‘This research is a nice example of how students doing research can also have an impact on Rotterdam and on the environment,’ says Aurelien Baillon, Professor of Economics of Uncertainty at Erasmus School of Economics.