This study undertook a critical examination of the relationship between perception of environmental harm and consumer willingness to pay for environmental handling fees (EHF). This analysis was supplemented by asking study participants to indicate under what circumstances (and for what materials) they believe a visible fee is appropriate. This study found that there is a statistically significant correlation between willingness to pay environmental handling fees and the perceived environmental harm of the product on which the fee is applied. For items that respondents viewed as “innocuous to the environment” (i.e.
, “keyboards and mice”), they were relatively unwilling to pay an environmental handling fee. Conversely, for the full range of hazardous waste materials, consumers expressed a willingness to pay EHFs. With respect to fee visibility, respondents indicated that they preferred visible fees (at the sticker) for products that they perceived to be dangerous. There is a strong correlation between perceived environmental harm and whether fees should be visible. Consumers are not necessarily averse to paying an eco fee on products (be they hazardous waste, electronic waste, etc.
), but their willingness to do so is almost entirely a function of whether they believe the product is environmentally burdensome. It is the recommendation of this study that promotion and education campaigns for environmental handling fees, particularly those surrounding waste electronics, place greater emphasis on environmental consequences of improper disposal.
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