Nudging for Environmental Sustainability. Behavioral Insights from an On-Field Experiment #iNUDGEBarletta


  • Claudio Nigro
  • Enrica Iannuzzi
  • Rossella Piccolo


Nudge for good, social sustainability, people behavior, communication strategies, public administration, gentle push, littering


Purpose of the paper: The #iNUDGEBarletta project makes Nudge’s theories operational, applying them in the field of environmental sustainability, to the management of littering in cities. The purpose is to educate citizens so that behaviors deemed socially responsible are internalized and become consolidated habits and conscious choices, rather than actions implemented under threat of sanction—which presumably become ineffective when the coercive measure is removed.

Methodology: The present study applies a simple form of contextual change (a gentle push) to waste collection tools to examine the effectiveness of a nudge policy for reducing littering in cities.

Findings and Results: The simulation, based on real data from Barletta (Apulia, Italy) old town, confirms that there is a realistic impact on social behavior and responsibility, and demonstrates the usefulness of nudge strategies to obtain desired actions from people to efficiently manage the public realm—and specifically to reduce littering.

Research limitations and practical implications: This paper offers a small research case that had access to only a small quantity of funds and a small amount of time. The case represents an experimental project that could be the subject of further studies and development through the analysis of other real cases and empirical tests.

Originality of the paper: This experiment is a real application of nudge strategies in the public administration and demonstrates how small contextual tricks can gently push people to engage in healthier and more sustainable lifestyles.

We note that the potential of nudging in Italy is still underexploited. The originality of the paper lies in proposing a new planning path to public administration through which, relying on the use of Nudge, new solutions can be studied and the choices of administrations can be directed towards the attitudes of their citizens.


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