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Moral obligation for recycling among youth: extended models of the theory of planned behaviour

Subrahmanyam Annamdevula (GITAM School of Business, GITAM Deemed to be University, Visakhapatnam, India)
Sai S. Nudurupati (GITAM School of Business, GITAM Deemed to be University, Visakhapatnam, India)
Raja P. Pappu (GITAM School of Business, GITAM Deemed to be University, Visakhapatnam, India)
Ranendra Sinha (GITAM School of Business, GITAM Deemed to be University, Visakhapatnam, India)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 8 December 2022

Issue publication date: 28 February 2023




This study aims to extend the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) model to explain youth’s recycling behavioural intentions in India. Perceived moral obligation (PMO) to perform such pro-environmental activities is incorporated in the TPB model. The study also aims to validate the extended version of TPB models with direct and indirect relationships and identify the best competing model among original TPB, extended TPB model “Model A” (moral obligation is an explanatory variable to recycling behaviour) and extended TPB model “Model B” (moral obligation as an explanatory variable to attitude, perceived behavioural control [PBC] and recycling behavioural intentions; and responsive variable to subjective norms) to predict Indian youth’s waste recycling behaviour.


The descriptive study adopted a hypo-deductive research design to test the proposed extended TPB models. The study used a survey research design with a structured questionnaire. A sample of 782 youth with a mean age of 18 was obtained to perform the correlational analysis. The scale validity and reliability are measured using structural equation modelling and identified the robust model with higher explanatory power using the Chi-square difference (Δχ2) statistic test.


Results show that the extended TPB model “Model B” has a better fit and explanatory power than competing models to predict the waste recycling behaviour of youth. Further findings substantiate that PMO has a higher indirect effect on recycling intention. Model B supports the utility of moral obligation and its association with youth’s higher waste recycling intention and actual recycling behaviour.

Research limitations/implications

The study considers solid waste recycling in general, and therefore future research should test the proposed model specific to other household wastes like water recycling. Furthermore, future studies can experiment with the model with additional variables like perceived relative benefits, social benefits, self-efficacy and education level of the respondents. In a strict sense, the research concern the respondents and the generalisation to a broader population should be made with caution. Hence, further studies in various geographical areas with larger sample sizes would allow the generalizability of the results.

Practical implications

This research provides insights into PMO and its influence on recycling intention. Promoting waste recycling behaviour through campaigns, social pressure and accepting the phenomena of “significant others” will encourage better waste recycling behavioural purposes. Indian households who are highly concerned and obliged towards environmental protection would develop favourable attitudes and subjective norms towards waste recycling.

Social implications

The study proved the effect of subjective norms on intentions. This contention explains that recycling mostly happens within the house and is mostly not witnessed by society and friends. Therefore, adopting waste recycling behaviour is not socially acceptable as they are not fully aware of its benefits. Policymakers should create awareness to develop environmental-friendly behaviour through recycling solid waste and develop exclusive campaigns to sensitise the negative impact on the environment.


The study’s originality is to test the extended TPB model “Model B”, with PMOs as an additional key variable, which has higher explanatory power to predict the youth’s waste recycling behavioural intentions in the Indian context. PMO found a positive and significant effect on attitude, PBC and recycling behavioural intentions. The higher indirect result of PMO on behavioural purposes through TPB variables indicates the importance of personal moral obligation in pro-environmental behaviour.



Annamdevula, S., Nudurupati, S.S., Pappu, R.P. and Sinha, R. (2023), "Moral obligation for recycling among youth: extended models of the theory of planned behaviour", Young Consumers, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 165-183.



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