Et nudge mod et renere København: A nudge towards a cleaner Copenhagen

Kasper Emil Thorsen, Kristian Coff Schang Andersen, Anders Mandrup Jensen & Nicklas Lyngbach Johnsson

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


Abstract This paper examines an explanation and a solution to the increasing problem that cigarette butts cause in the streets of Copenhagen. Research shows that over three billion cigarette butts are tossed on the ground in Denmark every year. This makes cigarette butts the most tossed type of litter with 43 percent. We cooperated with the Copenhagen Municipality and the waste collectors throughout the entire project, to obtain the knowledge that they possessed and to evaluate the results we obtained from our ongoing observations. Furthermore the Copenhagen Municipality recommended focusing on cigarette butts at bus stops as they are the hardest hit places, to which we agreed. We used structuralized quantitative observations containing qualitative aspects to obtain data from the smokers’ different kinds of behavior at bus stops. The results indicated that approximately 1 in 10 smokers would toss their cigarette butt in a trashcan or an ashtray. The results also allowed us to divide the different kinds of smokers into four categories, so-called archetypes. We made new observations to find which archetype was the most dominant. This proved to be “the unconscious” smoker, which represented over 80 percent of the observed smokers. Our focus was primarily directed towards reducing the amount of cigarette butts tossed on the ground by “the unconscious” smokers. In order to do so, we analyzed their behavior and determined which characteristics they had in common. We used the theory of nudge presented by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein as our primary theory and as the most important element in our project. We decided to make use of the libertarian paternalistic nudge – a nudge that while allowing you to choose freely, tries to lead you towards the option that is best for you. Acquainted with the ways of doing a libertarian paternalistic nudge and the common characteristics of “the unconscious” smoker, we began constructing and testing prototypes of ashtrays. The first prototype resulted in an increase from 11 percent to 65 percent of total cigarette butts tossed therein. In order to pinpoint the nudging characteristics we had to create a second prototype. This prototype had some key elements changed which led us to the hypothesis that the prototype would generate a different result. The result, however, turned out to vary by only one percent from our observation of the first prototype. This led us to the conclusion that the actual nudge is not caused as much by the appearance and features of the ashtray, as it is the placement and the fact that it is a thing of its own and not physically connected to a trashcan. Although the visual appeal of the ashtray is less important than we originally thought, we can conclude that the aesthetics are greatly important in the noticeability and therefore effectiveness of the ashtray.

UddannelserBasis - Humanistisk-Teknologisk Bacheloruddannelse, (Bachelor uddannelse) Basis
Udgivelsesdato19 dec. 2013
VejlederePelle Guldborg Hansen


  • Libertarian
  • Paternalism
  • København
  • Cigaret
  • Adfærd
  • Nudge
  • Skod
  • Askebæger