Travis P. Wagner

Univeristy of Southern Maine
Department of Environmental Science & Policy

106 Bailey Hall
Gorham, Maine
04103 |  Visit Personal Website

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My research interests focus on sustainable material management through the identification and evaluation of model environmental policy programs with special emphasis on applying extended producer responsibility and product stewardship frameworks to divert, recapture, and recycle waste. My other interest is researching historical evolution of environmental policies dealing with pollution control and waste management.

Wagner, T.P., Toews, P., & Bouvier, R. (2013). Increasing diversion of household hazardous wastes and materials through mandatory retail take-back. Journal of Environmental Management, 123: 88-97.
Abstract: The disposal of household hazardous waste and materials as municipal solid waste (MSW) remains a vexing problem for solid waste managers and policymakers. A major underlying factor is the inconvenience of special collection programs compared to general disposal. A properly designed, mandatory retail take-back program can significantly improve user convenience compared to centralized or periodic, voluntary special collection programs. San Luis Obispo County, California, population 271,960, was the first county in the US to establish a mandatory retail take-back program for specific household hazardous waste and materials (HHWM): fluorescent lamps, household batteries, medical sharps, and latex paint. This program uses retail locations as collection points for subsequent transport by the county to its transfer facility. This shared responsibility program has been highly effective at diverting HHWM from disposal as MSW. Between April 2009 and October 2012 the estimated collection/diversion rates increased dramatically from near zero percent to approximately 36.44% for fluorescent lamps, 21.4% for household batteries, 28.43% for latex paint, and 72.65% for used medical sharps. For household batteries and fluorescent lamps, the convenience of the collection container and the type of store were statistically significant predictors of the number of batteries and lamps collected.
Wagner, T.P. (2013). Examining the concept of convenient collection: An application to extended producer responsibility and product stewardship frameworks. (Special Issue: Urban Mining)Waste Management, 33: 499-507.
Abstract: Increasingly, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and Product Stewardship (PS) frameworks are being adopted as a preferred policy approach to promote cost-effective diversion and recovery of post-consumer solid waste. Because the application of EPR/PS generally requires the creation of a separate and often parallel collection and/or management system, key to increasing the amount of waste recovered is to maximize the convenience of the collection system to maximize consumer participation. Convenient collection is often mandated in EPR/PS laws, however it is not defined. Convenience is a subjective construct rendering it extremely difficult to define. However, based on a dissection of post-consumer collection efforts under a generic EPR/PS system, this paper identifies and examines five categories of convenience – knowledge requirements, proximity to a collection site, opportunity to drop-off materials, the draw of the collection site, and the ease of the process—and the various factors of convenience within each of these categories. By using a simplified multiple criteria decision analysis, this paper proposes a performance matrix of criteria of convenience. Stakeholders can use this matrix to assist in the design, assessment, and/or implementation of a convenient post-consumer collection system under an EPR/PS framework.
Wagner, T.P. (2011). Compact fluorescent lights and the impact of convenience and knowledge on household recycling rates. Waste Management, 31(6): 1300-1306.
Abstract: Increased energy costs, social marketing campaigns, public subsidies, and reduced retail prices have dramatically increased the number of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) installed worldwide. CFLs provide many benefits, but they contain a very small amount of mercury. Given the billions of CFLs in use worldwide, they represent a significant source of mercury unless CFLs are recycled and the mercury recovered in an environmentally sound manner. In the state of Maine (northeast United States), despite mandated recycling of CFLs and availability of free CFL recycling, the household CFL recycling rate is very low. A study was undertaken to identify the primary factors responsible for low recycling. The first step was to survey householders who use CFLs. The 520 survey responses indicated that insufficient knowledge regarding recycling and inconvenience of the collection system are the two primary factors for the low recycling rate. To validate these findings, the second step was an examination of the current collection system to assess (a) the knowledge requirements necessary for recycling and (b) the convenience of the collection system. The results of this examination validated that knowledge requirements were excessively difficult to fulfill and the collection system is not sufficiently convenient. Based on these results, waste managers should focus on increasing convenience and simplifying access to information when designing or improving household collection and recycling of CFLs.
Wagner, T.P. (2009). Shared responsibility for managing electronic waste: A case study of Maine, USA. Waste Management, 29(12): 3014-3021.
Abstract: Based on high disposal and low recycling rates of electronic waste (e-waste) and continued exportation to developing countries, reliance on municipal responsibility for e-waste management has been unsuccessful in the United States. This case study examines Maine’s program, which was the first US state to mandate producer responsibility for recycling household e-waste. Maine’s program established a shared cost responsibility among producers, municipalities, and consumers. The study found that Maine’s program resulted in a significant reduction in disposal and a corresponding increase in environmentally sound recycling. In the first 3 years of the program, 6.406 million kg of household e-waste was collected and recycled for a population of 1.32 million. The new program, implemented in 2006, increased the number of e-waste items collected and recycled by 108% in the first year, 170% in the second year, and 221% in the third year. The program decreased direct economic costs to municipalities and households because of the shared cost approach and for the first time established costs for producers. There was no empirical evidence indicating that producers have or will improve the recyclability of electronic products to reduce recycling costs. While other weaknesses were that found potentially limit the adoption of Maine’s program, its positive aspects warrant consideration by other governments.
Wagner T. & Arnold, P. (2008). A new model for solid waste management? An analysis of the Nova Scotia MSW strategy. Journal of Cleaner Production, 16:410-421.
Abstract: In 1989 Canada established a national goal; divert 50 percent of the nation’s municipal solid waste from disposal by 2000. The province of Nova Scotia was the first and only province to achieve this goal. In the early 1990s, Nova Scotia relied on substandard land-based disposal, incineration, and open burning. Pollution prevention was minimal. In 1995, Nova Scotia adopted a comprehensive, province-wide strategy based on pollution prevention to fundamentally change its historical approach and to achieve the diversion goal. The strategy has been effective, has achieved substantial environmental benefits, and program costs are comparable to other North American systems. This paper examines and analyzes the strategy and its current construct to assess whether the Nova Scotia strategy is a model program worthy of consideration at national and other sub-national levels.
Wagner, T. (2007). Reframing garbage: Solid waste policy formulation in Nova Scotia. Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de Politiques, 33(4):459-475.
Abstract: A series of powerful focusing events established solid waste as a national problem in Canada and a provincial and local problem in Nova Scotia. The traditional approach, expanding and improving disposal options, was rejected at the provincial and local levels. Instead, both levels simultaneously developed and implemented policies that focused on maximizing the recovery of solid waste. In both cases, crucial to policy adoption was the reframing of solid waste from a useless by-product to a valuable e economic resource. This reframing was the result of the intervention of powerful policy actors, environmental justice concerns, media attention, and the sustained presence of the issue on the agenda. This case study provides important lessons to governments interested in developing an alternative policy for solid waste other than the traditional disposal reliance paradigm.
Wagner, T. (2004). Hazardous waste: Evolution of a national environmental problem. Journal of Policy History, 16(4):306-331
Abstract: An analysis of the evolution of the classification and perception of hazardous waste from 1970 until 1985 in the US through the various focusing events.
Bouvier, Rachel and Wagner, Travis P. 2011. The Influence of Collection Facility Attributes on Household Collection Rates of Electronic Waste: The Case of Televisions and Computer Monitors”, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 55(11):1051-1059.

Substantive Focus:
Energy and Natural Resource Policy SECONDARY
Environmental Policy PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy History PRIMARY
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation SECONDARY