What’s in a name: Framing treated wastewater as recycled water increases willingness to use and willingness to pay
Review articleOpen access

AbstractThe experiment described in this paper compares the effects of descriptive terms on farmers’ willingness to use and willingness to pay for recycled water for irrigation and consumers’ willingness to use and willingness to pay for products irrigated with recycled water. In the descriptive materials and questionnaire items used in a field survey, treated effluent from wastewater treatment plants was described as “recycled water” for one experimental group and as “treated wastewater” for another. Although the two terms describe the same commodity (i.e. purified effluent from wastewater treatment facilities) willingness to use was reliably higher with the “recycled water” descriptor for both farmers and consumers. In contrast, the descriptor affected willingness to pay only in the consumer sample; decisions about personal consumption of food products might be more affected by the differential disgust-eliciting effectiveness of descriptors than farmers’ business decisions concerning the irrigation of products to be consumed by others. Respondents of both samples who were unwilling to use recycled water commodities most often cited feelings of disgust as the main cause of their rejection, supporting the view that successful marketing strategies for this valuable resource must take into account the normative learning histories of potential consumers.

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