Recycle It Right! Sorting It Out At Beck Hall


  1. Introduction
  2. This study is a WATgreen project (see Section 5), which focuses on improving the recycling efficiency at the University of Waterloo’s Beck Hall residence through an educational campaign.

    The project tested the assumption that an awareness campaign can increase recycling practices. The project used a research method involving both assessments of attitudes (surveys and observations) and behaviour (waste and recycling audits).

    After conducting a visual audit (May 7, 2001) of the recycling situation at Beck Hall, it was determined that there was a possibility for improvement in the current system for the disposal of waste by residents. Our group also assessed the current visual prompts and explanations regarding recycling within the building and conducted a waste and recycling audit (May 10-12, 2001). We brought our initial findings to Patti Cook, the Waste Management Co-ordinator at the University of Waterloo (May 10, 2001). She informed us that there was a history of confusion concerning the recycling program at Beck Hall on the part of the residents (Cook, 2001). Photos (see Appendix A, 1) provided by Patti Cook portray the high turnover of students from the Winter 2001 to Spring 2001 terms, and reveal that the level of education regarding what can/cannot be recycled and where it is to be placed, was severely lacking at that point in time.

    Preliminary research (Hainsworth, 2001; Smith, 2000; Walker, 1996) as well as advice from Patti Cook (2001, University of Waterloo Waste Management Co-ordinator), Deanna Dakin (2001, Co-ordinator, Promotion and Education at the Regional Municipality of Waterloo) and Renee Dello (2001, City of Toronto Waste Diversion Co-ordinator) determined that an increase in the education of the residents would be the best avenue to pursue in order to attempt to influence the efficiency of the current recycling program.

    Our involvement in this research project was stimulated by our interest in recycling issues as well as our wish to see the students of the University of Waterloo promote environmental stewardship. Environmental stewardship refers to a general responsibility to protect and preserve the Earth (Eagan and Orr, 1992). Eagan and Orr (1992) indicate that the campus has an obligation to better our community through improved environmental practices.

    Our project was based on three crucial assumptions. First, we assumed that behaviour could be changed through alterations in attitudes; Secondly, this study assumes that there is a connection between what people say they will do and what they actually do. That is to say, we assume people’s behaviour to be somewhat predictable (Palys, 1997); Thirdly, we assume that Beck Hall’s recycling efficiency can be improved. This project assumes that there is always an opportunity for improvement and that one cannot be subjected to too much awareness information. The discussion about the relationship between attitudes and behaviour is continued throughout this paper, but is explored in detail in Section 11.0.

    In the past there have been numerous studies performed on recycling in university residences, single dwelling homes, and multi-residential apartments, however, there has not been a recycling study conducted at Beck Hall (Derry et al, 2001; Hainsworth, 2001; Walker, 1996). Since, there has not been a previous study the audience for this project consisted of the students, staff, and administration of the residence. This study is significant to the students at Beck Hall because they are the individuals who are participating in the recycling program. The staff at Beck Hall, especially the custodial staff who are responsible for the upkeep of the residence, illustrated significant interest in an educational campaign in order for recyclables to be disposed properly. The administrators of the residence are also important because they are the individuals who will enable continuous education to occur.

  3. Purpose of the Study
  4. The purpose of this study has been to examine if an educational campaign can improve the recycling efficiency at Beck Hall. The aim of our research group was to see more students, staff and administration at Beck Hall become more aware of the recycling program offered within their building. We wanted to encourage more participation in the recycling program to increase the amount of recyclable materials being recycled. It was our hope that by increasing the knowledge of recycling at Beck Hall, increased sustainable practices would emerge throughout the residence.

    A sub purpose, yet equally important as the first, was to keep within the theme of this year’s ERS 250/390 course, that of environmental stewardship. It was the hope of this research group that increasing people’s awareness and knowledge of recycling issues would also foster a greater sense of environmental stewardship among students, staff and employees at Beck Hall.


  5. Research Question and Objectives
  6. Our research question has been: Can an education campaign affect the recycling efficiency at Beck Hall?

    The research question is much more complex than it might appear at first glance. It is really addressing two philosophical questions: first, can education change people’s attitudes; Secondly, can this change in attitudes, if it occurs, translate into a change of behaviour!

    In order to have an effective educational campaign, it is crucial to understand the current situation of the waste and recycling program. To achieve this objective, waste and recycling audits were performed. This study also examined the student knowledge of recycling by way of a survey (assessment of attitudes) so we could assess where to focus our educational campaign. Through posted signs and direct contact with the residents, our educational campaign was meant to promote recycling practices at Beck Hall. Continuous waste and recycling audits (identification of behaviour), along with follow-up surveys were used to test how effective the educational campaign has been at improving the recycling practices of residents at Beck Hall.







  7. Beck Hall
  8. Our research was situated at the University of Waterloo Beck Hall residence, located in the south east corner of the campus (see Appendix B). Beck Hall is an upper year University of Waterloo residence, located at UW Place, 108 Seagram Drive, Waterloo. Beck Hall is a thirteen-floor apartment building, with ten two-person apartments on each floor (see Appendix A, 2). The residence houses approximately 230 students each term. A don is assigned for every three floors, for a total of four dons. The dons’ duties are to help out residents and to create a positive residence environment.

    Each apartment is responsible for its own garbage and recycling disposal. True waste (see Section 8.2) is to be taken to garbage chutes located on every other floor. The recycling facilities are located outside on ground level (see Appendix A, 3). Every apartment receives two Region of Waterloo Recycling Bags that are to be taken to the recycling facilities by the residents themselves.

    UW Place houses a large mix of upper-year, graduate and family-housing students in the buildings that surround Beck Hall.


  9. WATgreen
  10. This project was undertaken as a WATgreen initiative. WATgreen projects allow students to use the University of Waterloo campus as a laboratory for demonstrating how to create sustainable communities (WATgreen, 2001). The WATgreen commitment is to continually improve the environmental performance of the University, while at the same time, wherever possible, decrease operating costs. Initially, Environment and Resource Studies faculty and students working in co-operation with staff, students and other faculty members from across the University of Waterloo set up the WATgreen movement in 1990.

    Through the WATgreen initiative, this project, and others to follow, make a direct contribution to increasing sustainability of the University campus and the community in which it is located.

  11. Sustainability on Campus
  12. The importance of sustainability on campus has become not only an environmental issue, but one of economics as well. For example, waste management at the University of Waterloo is not only an environmentally conscious effort to divert waste from the landfill through recycling programs in order to preserve the limited landfill space, but also has the potential to save money in the cost of transporting the waste. This project is a specific example of a larger effort to create a campus that houses sustainable practices in order to promote environmental and potentially economic rewards. Because of the small community base at the University of Waterloo, which allows for the control of the majority of the resources that enter and leave the campus, sustainable practices can be implemented with much more ease than that of a larger area such as the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. For this reason the University of Waterloo has the potential to serve as a model for larger community regions. Our project was meant to be a model as well.


  13. Study Design
  14. As Walker (1996) found, attitudes, convenience of the system, previous recycling knowledge, income, and education are among some of the most important factors that determine recycling efficiency in multi-residential buildings. Due to the logistics of the building, and the short amount of time available to complete the research, we found it feasible to address only the attitudes and education levels of residents at Beck Hall. As stated earlier, preliminary research (Hainsworth, 2001. Smith, 2000. Walker, 1996) as well as advice from Patti Cook (University of Waterloo Waste Management Coordinator), Deanna Dakin (Co-ordinator, Promotion and Education at the Regional Municipality of Waterloo) and Renee Dello (City of Toronto Waste Diversion Coordinator) also determined that an increase in the education of the residents would be the best approach to pursue in order to attempt to change the efficiency of the current recycling program.

    Figure 1 illustrates the study design as a model to verify our assumption that an awareness campaign can increase recycling practices through both, assessment of

    attitudes (surveys and interviews) and behaviour (waste and recycling audits).

    There were also indirect effects of the audits, surveys and communications with residents and staff on the education levels of participants. Our education

    campaign alone might not have been the only aspect having an effect on the present recycling situation. We realise the possibility of factors other than the independent variable acting on the dependent variable.

    A detailed description of the methods utilised follows in Section 9. Section 10 proceeds with a detailed discussion of the survey and audit data analysis.

    Figure 1: Study Design Flow Chart. Source: Project Data, 2001.







  15. Conceptual Framework

This section outlines the key systems and concepts under consideration in this study. Its purpose is to situate Beck Hall within the context of a recycling system. The rationale for this section is to provide insight into the current system and focus the research by defining key concepts, systems and boundaries.

8.1 Scope and Focus of the Study

This project was limited to assessing whether or not attempts to educate and improve the awareness of residents in Beck Hall on the issue of recycling would affect the efficiency of the current recycling program. Change in recycling efficiency was assessed through audits of the waste and recycling generated by Beck Hall residents. The convenience of the system and how it was run were not considered, as our focus was on assessing the effects of the education campaign. The convenience of the system and how it is run remained constant over the course of this study and were left outside the scope of this project.

Thus, this study targeted Beck Hall residents and staff in order to increase their understanding of recycling. Recycling education, awareness and efficiency were the only variables of interest. Education and awareness was the independent variable, attempting to affect the dependent variable, recycling efficiency.

8.2 Key Terms and Concepts


Achievements in terms of human production output and increased standard of living have come at some considerable environmental costs. The challenge now is to find sustainable ways to deal with the immense amount of waste generated from people’s daily consumption. Sustainability refers to a concept that is environmentally sound, socially equitable, economically viable and illustrates a commitment to meet current as well as future needs (United Nations, 2001). Sustainability cannot be achieved from one day to the next. It requires individual, local actions that add up to a large-scale beneficial environmental and societal outcome. This project was aimed at bringing sustainability just one step closer within reach through an attempt to increase the recycling efficiency at Beck Hall residence.

Environmental Stewardship

Environmental stewardship refers to the processes and/or people that ensure that sustainability is achieved. Environmental stewardship addresses the question of "how to make this world a better place" (Murphy, 2001). The recycling education and awareness campaign in this study made an attempt to decrease the amount of recyclables going into the waste stream and limit the amount of contamination. The project fits into the theme of environmental stewardship, as it tried to make an improvement to the current system that will have a greater environmental and societal benefit. It can be argued that everyone has a responsibility to act as an environmental steward, and a university campus provides excellent grounds to instil this notion into students (Keniry, 1995).

Waste Diversion Rates

The waste diversion rate describes the waste that is being recycled, re-used or composted as opposed to going to the landfill.

Recycling Efficiency

The term recycling efficiency refers to the proportion of recyclables being captured through recycling measures and diverted from the regular waste stream.

Contamination Rate

The contamination rate is defined as the amount of non-recyclables found in recycling bins as a percentage of total recyclable material or recyclables improperly sorted.












Anything that is recyclable in this particular recycling program, as outlined below (Region of Waterloo, 2001)(see Appendix C).

 Paper Cart

  • Newspapers & inserts
  • Magazines & catalogues
  • Telephone books & paperbacks
  • Household fine paper
  • Boxboard

 Cardboard Dumpster

  • Cardboard

 Container Cart

  • See-through "PET" plastic bottles, jars & jugs
  • "HDPE" plastic bottles, jars & jugs (no tubs)
  • Aluminum foil wrap & foil trays
  • Glass food & beverage bottles & jars
  • Metal food & beverage containers

True Waste

Any residual material that does not fit into the recyclables category as described above is considered true waste. Organic material is considered true waste for the purpose of this project, as this project does not address the issue of composting. Out of interest and for further research possibilities, the amount of organic material in the waste stream was assessed.

Recycling Education and Awareness Campaign

Recycling education and awareness campaign constitutes all events and information, verbal or written, with the intent to increase a person’s knowledge of recycling and any other environmental issues relevant to the topic of waste management.


A complex mental annotation involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways (WorldNet, 1997).


Manner of acting or conducting oneself (WorldNet, 1997).





8.3 Physical System

Figure 2: The Material Flow in the Production and Consequential Waste Industry. Source: Project Data. 2001.


The boundaries of the overall physical system are extensive due to the broad scope of the production industries involved, as shown in Figure 2. This project considered the waste and recycling flow coming out of Beck Hall, and did not address the amount of materials being brought into the overall physical system.


There are aspects of the consumption part of the system that we did not attempt to assess due to limitations beyond our control. For example, we did not assess the convenience of the recycling system. Also, the building infrastructure is pre-determined and would have been nearly impossible to change, as our preliminary observations illustrated. We could not account for increased or decreased recycling patterns prompted by practices of the production industry. These include but are not limited to a change in income or alterations in purchasing patterns. These factors could potentially increase, or decrease, the amount of waste materials. We could not account for someone illegally dumping waste into the outside garbage or recycling bins. Both of these factors had the potential to affect the results of our waste and recycling audits.

Organic (compostable) material was assessed in our audits for interest and further research purposes. The analysis of organic material was beyond the scope of this study.

8.4 Actor System

Figure 3: Actors Involved in the Waste Management System. Source: Project Data, 2001.


For the purpose of this study, the boundaries were limited to the Beck Hall residence and any University staff that may influence it, as demonstrated in Figure 3. The recommendations may go beyond that boundary to the larger system. The system at Beck Hall is a sub-system of the University of Waterloo as a whole, which is nested in the Regional System and so on.


The limitations that had the potential to hinder our research presented themselves in the form of biases held by the various individuals in our actors system and the research team. Their opinions had the potential to mislead our research. The limitations of the study as they relate to validity and reliability are discussed in Section 8.6.

Figure 3 illustrates the core actors directly involved in our system of analysis. The core, supporting and shadow actors of consideration are outlined below according to their purpose with respect to this study.

Residents of Beck Hall

The students who reside at Beck Hall are a principal unit of evaluation (see Section 9.1), and make up the major component of the actor system.



Student Life Co-ordinator at Beck Hall

Will Pascoe is the Student Life Co-ordinator at Beck Hall, and he is therefore in charge of all student-related activities at that residence. He was the key contact in this study as he authorised and aided the education campaign and ensured we operated in the best interest of the Beck Hall residents. It was also Mr. Pascoe’s efforts that enabled us to establish collaborative efforts with the Dons.

Patti Cook, University of Waterloo Waste Management Co-ordinator

Patti Cook has been the main contact for research regarding past and present recycling initiatives on campus. She has been of great assistance by supplying key contacts, audit material, past audit data and recycling education material.

Building and Ground Maintenance Supervisor

The Supervisor was really enthusiastic about our efforts and offered continual assistance. He provided us with access to the waste facilities at Beck Hall and ensured that all the employees were aware of our intentions.

University of Waterloo Place Administration

Initial contact was made with the administration who then provided us with the contacts necessary to implement our study at Beck Hall. After contacting the building and grounds personal, communication with the administration was no longer necessary as initial permission had been granted. The administration, however, is essential to ensure continuous recycling education efforts at Beck Hall.

8.5 Recycling Knowledge Flow

All actor systems are governed by a system of social rules that determine the relationship between categories of actors and how they choose to behave (Murphy, 2001). There are many social rules present in the system under study, such as laws, University

policies, organizational procedures and power relationships. The one set of social rules of specific concern to this study is the flow of recycling knowledge among actors as seen in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Recycling Knowledge Flow at Beck Hall. Source: Project Data, 2001.

Our preliminary research (see Section 11.0) and our personal observations have shown that Figure 4 is a comprehensive illustration of the recycling knowledge flow at Beck Hall. The residents receive their recycling knowledge from dons, UW Place staff and the Student Life Co-ordinator, who all in turn gather information from the UW Place Administration and the UW Waste Management Department. All of these actors within this system can increase their recycling knowledge through outside influences, such as the media, Regional Municipality of Waterloo information, UW courses, past recycling knowledge, friends and relatives and through personal interest and education. It was our hope that the education campaign would make Beck Hall residents more aware of recycling issues, and hence make them more receptive to information coming from other sources as well.


8.6 Applicability of Research

We realised that drawing conclusions and inferences from the results of the audits and surveys could only be done with confidence if we conducted our methods keeping in mind Utility, and carrying them out in a Reliable and Valid manner (Palys, 1997).

Internal validity

Definition: The extent to which differences observed in an experimental study can be unambiguously attributed to the experimental treatment itself, rather than to other factors (Palys, 1997).

Since the waste and recycling audits revealed an increase in recycled materials and a decrease in recyclables in the waste stream after the implementation of our education campaign (see Section 10.0), one may be able to infer that increased awareness and education resulted in an increase in the recycling of recyclable products. However, to state that the education campaign was the only reason for a potential change in the recycling habits of residents within Beck Hall would be foolhardy. There may have been a decrease in the amount of recycling products entering Beck Hall, or a method of awareness not associated with the actions of our group (such as television, radio, or other mediums) (see Section 8.5). Thus, while we may be fairly certain that a rise in awareness did cause an increase in recycling activities, we can never be 100 percent sure.

External validity

Definition: The generalizability of results beyond the specifics of the study, particularly to other people, situations, and times (Palys, 1997).

Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects of our methods for studying whether or not an education campaign may improve the recycling efficiency at Beck Hall was that our findings could be tailored to other residences. Our only limitation about drawing conclusions regarding other residences is that our survey results represent a particular demographic and profession that limits the scope of applicability. This demographic would be primarily students.

Ecological validity

Definition: The representativeness of the treatments and measures you use in relation to the particular milieu to which you wish to generalize (Palys, 1997).

The ecological validity of our research project is very high simply because we studied students in the situation that we would like to generalize to. We analyzed students at Beck Hall, a university residence, and would like to generalize our results only to this or other multi-residential academic institutions.

Preliminary Research and Observations

Our preliminary research and observations as discussed earlier provided us with useful information on how to approach this project and gave us insight into the current situation. However, they only present a given moment in time and may or may not be representative of the true situation (Palys, 1997). By continually performing observations and audits we minimized this kind of bias for the term this study was completed. However, the conditions at Beck Hall could vary from term to term as the student population changes.
















  1. Methods

The methods employed utilize an integrated and inductive approach through triangulation as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Use of Triangulation to Answer Research Question. Source: Project Data, 2001.

We conducted waste and recycling audits along with surveys of the residents to gather quantitative data, and an awareness campaign to gather qualitative data, which together empirically demonstrate the reliability of our methods (Palys, 1997). Previous studies were utilized in order to reinforce and assert and /or compare the findings of this study. All three approaches helped our attempt to improve the recycling efficiency at Beck Hall through education of the residents. The information gathered in the audits provided evidence to support or refute the findings of the survey; They indicated if there was a connection between attitudes and behaviour.

Our methods are viable as they provide a link between our research question and the data collected (Palys, 1997). The audits and information gathered prior to the awareness campaign gave us a basis from which to answer whether or not an increase in resident’s education could be credited with increased recycling. The data collected after the education campaign was used to show that education lead to increased recycling at Beck Hall. The methods derived from our conceptual framework are outlined as follows (Table 1. Methods):

Table 1. Methods



Time Frame


Building Overview

-To assess location and layout of Beck Hall and waste management operations

May 10 2001

- Visual observation via tour of recycling area, lobby floors garbage rooms

Waste audits

-To determine current waste composition

-Composition of recyclable found in waste stream

-Data to be used to focus awareness campaign

May 14—June 20 2001

-Waste collected bi-weekly on Mondays and Fridays by Canadian Waste, at approximately 10:00am; there are two waste bins (Approximately four yards, one inside garbage room, and one outside).

-Audits were conducted on collection days prior to pick up

-Estimated percentage of bin full

-Randomly selected 2 bags per 10% fullness of the bin i.e. if bin 80% full, gather 16 bags to analyse

-Divided contents of bags into three categories: recycling, organic, true waste

-Determine percentage of total sampled in each category

-Record data on audit form (See Appendix D)

Recycling/ Cardboard Audit

-To determine current recycling levels in the building

-Determine amount of contamination in recycling bins

-Data to be used to focus awareness campaign

May 14—June 20 2001

-Recycling collected weekly on Tuesdays, Cardboard on Thursdays by Canadian Waste at approximately 10:00 am; there are five 98 gallons Recycling bins for all glass, cans, PET plastics. There are three bins for paperboard paper and newsprint. There is one four yard bin for Corrugated cardboard

-Audits were conducted on collection days prior to pick up

-Visually estimated the percentage of fullness for each bin

-From percentage of fullness determine the percentage of contamination in each bin

-Record data on audit form (See Appendix D)

Pre awareness campaign Survey

-To gain a greater knowledge of how residents at Beck Hall are aware/ participate in recycling program

-To determine how to focus environmental awareness campaign

June 20 — June 22 2001

-Created a survey that consists of questions geared toward determining peoples education and awareness concerning recycling specifically the program at Beck Hall (see Appendix E)

-Obtained approval from the office of human research

-Trial run with uninvolved parties (ERS 250 class)to serve as a control group (Palys, 1997)

-Distributed the survey after five weeks of auditing

-Each group member was assigned several floors at Beck Hall (12 floors & 5 group members)

-Collected all surveys analysed and synthesised data. Used results to focus awareness campaign

Presentation and Awareness Campaign

-To try to increase the recycling rates at Beck Hall through increased education

June 22-June 30 2001

-Designed recycling awareness posters, and obtained other recycling posters from Patti Cook & the Regional Municipality of Waterloo

-Placed recycling awareness posters all around the building

Waste Audit

-To determine if the awareness campaign and survey led to a reduction of recyclable in the waste stream

June 22 — July 30 2001

-Waste Audit Procedure same as above

Recycling/ Cardboard Audit

-To determine if the awareness campaign and survey led to an increase in recycling rates and decrease in contamination rates

June 22 — July 30 2001

-Recycling/Cardboard audit same as above

Post awareness campaign survey

-To determine if peoples attitudes towards recycling changes as a result of the awareness campaign

July 11 2001

-Same surveys as above were conducted at the front entrance to Beck Hall

-Students received a free pop after completing survey


The waste and recycling audits are representative as long as all residents dispose of their waste in the provided bins. We sampled the contents of the waste bins by randomly choosing bags within the bins and recording the findings of the recycling content, as seen in the methods table. The data from the surveys, audits and awareness campaign are useful in answering our research question.

Our research was ongoing throughout the research process (Table 3. Research Schedule) as we looked to answer the question by referring to a variety of sources.

We have made contact with the following people and conducted informal conversations and observations (Table 2. Key Contacts).

Table 2. Key Contacts





Primary Sources

Direct Beck Hall Affiliates

Direct knowledge of recycling/waste operations at Beck Hall

-Erick Conde — Resident Attendant

-Antonio Marques — Grounds Keeper

-Jenny MacIntyre — Supervisor, maintenance and cleaning services

-Wendy Cooper — Manager

-Will Pascoe — Residence life co-ordinator



Waste Management and Environmental Experts

Become more familiar with recycling programs and procedures for conducting research in waste management and social studies

-Patti Cook — Waste Management Co-ordinator UW

-Susanna Reid — Manager Perth County Green Works

-Cathy Hainsworth — ERS graduate

-Nicole Mundy, Waste Reduction Co-ordinator, City of Brantford

-Jamie Cowan 390’s T.A.

-Deanna Dekan, Co-ordinator, Promotion and Education, Region of Waterloo

Secondary Sources


General background of waste management and audits

-WATgreen Projects

-Previous research of a similar nature

-UW audit procedures

-Recycling literature

-Social attitudes/aspects literature
















Table 3. Research Schedule (see also Appendix F)



May 28-June 1, 2001

- draft proposal and Bibliography due

  • continue waste/recycling audits as in previous weeks (see Table 1. Methods)

June 3-8, 2001

  • preliminary poster design and gather promotional material from Patti Cook and the City of Waterloo
  • waste/recycling audits

June 11-15, 2001

  • finalise survey form
  • receive ethics approval from Office of Human Research
  • waste/recycling audits

June 22-30, 2001

  • give survey to ERS 250 class
  • arrange educational campaign, gather resources
  • administer survey at Beck Hall
  • set up posters, distribute pamphlets
  • presentations to residents of Beck Hall
  • waste/recycling audits
  • study design due

June 30-July 30, 2001

  • waste/recycling audits to begin to assess effectiveness of promotional campaign

July 2-July 30, 2001

  • waste/recycling audits

July 9-13, 2001

  • conduct 2nd survey to reassess resident’s knowledge and awareness of recycling
  • waste/recycling audits

July 16-20, 2001

  • prepare for presentations
  • analyse results, begin final report

July 23-30, 2001

  • final presentations
  • write final report
  • education campaign- Rob and Marja
  • attitudes and behaviour research- Mary Ellen
  • data analysis- Ric and Markus
  • group as a whole worked together in editing and finalising the report as time was available.

August 1, 2001

- final report due


9.1 Units of Evaluation

The units of evaluation for this project were students and their recycling habits (behaviour), attitudes, waste and recycling material.

We evaluated several variables when conducting the waste and recycling audits. For the recycling audit, the focus was on determining how full the bins were, and then determined the level of contamination of the bins as a whole. Cardboard had a similar unit of evaluation; how full the bin was, and how much non-corrugated cardboard was in the bin.

For the waste audit the units we evaluated were the percentage for each of true waste, recycling materials and organic material in the waste bin. We also determined how full the bin was. This was done for both the inside and outside bins. The recycling we found in the bins was further divided into percentages (of the recyclables found) of paper, cans, bottles and PET, and finally corrugated cardboard.

9.2 Criteria of the Waste and Recycling Audits

There were several variables that we assessed to determine the level of recycling and to evaluate how much recycling was being thrown out with true waste. Waste audits were done on Mondays and Fridays. For each audit, our group determined how many bags we had to sample from, based on how full the garbage bin was. For each ten- percent filled bin space, we sampled two bags of garbage. Within the bags we separated the contents into three piles: true waste, organic materials and recyclable. From these three piles we determined what percent of the total sampled was present. For the recycling, we further separated the contents into three categories: paper, cans, bottles & PET, and Cardboard. For the recycling pile we again determined what percent each categories made up of the total recycling present.

The recycling audits were done on Tuesdays and the cardboard audits on Thursdays. We determined how full the recycling bins were and the percent of contamination.

The methods for both the pre and post campaign waste audits were the same, though their purpose differed. The audits done prior to the education campaign were done in order to determine the current level of recycling at Beck Hall as well as to determine how much recycling materials was being put into the waste bin. From the preliminary data obtained from the waste and recycling audits, we determined what areas of education to focus on based on problems found during the audits, (see Section 9.3 and 10.1). The post campaign audits were also done to determine the level of recycling and the amount of waste in the garbage. However, there was also the added component to the post audits, which was to determine what, if any, effect the education campaign had on the residents, in terms of levels of recycling, contamination rates and amount of recycling in the waste bin. Measuring the education campaign’s success was achieved through obtaining waste and recycling audit data, and the results of our post campaign survey.

9.3 Education Campaign


The purpose of the education campaign was to initiate a change in the attitudes of the residents at Beck Hall. It was our assumption that by positively affecting the attitudes of Beck Hall residents towards recycling, a change in the behaviour patterns would occur and affect the recycling efficiency at the residence.


The education campaign itself was utilized due to our assumption, that the best way to potentially change the attitudes of residents at Beck Hall was through direct contact, and by leaving visual aids. By directly contacting each resident, we were able to provide specific information regarding the recycling program at Beck Hall such as the location of the recycling bags in each residential unit, as well as answering specific questions regarding what materials could be recycled. The posters (two types as stated below), adhesives and door hangers provided a permanent visual aid for the residents to refer to. The visual promotions also provide a means to educate future residents of Beck Hall after our project had been completed. It was also important to maintain a uniform message while utilising simple pictures and limited text for the greatest impact.

Duration of Campaign:

The education campaign was completed from June 25 to July 6, 2001. No education efforts were made during the period of the June 30 and July 2, as it was a holiday weekend.

Identified issues:

It was suggested by Deanna Dakin (2001), Co-ordinator, Promotion and Education for the Engineering Department, Waste Management Division of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, that the best method for educating the residents was to focus on two specific recycling issues, and ensure a constant availability of information on each for the duration of our campaign. Based on this advice, our group identified two product types, which were of concern to the recycling program at Beck Hall. These commodities were identified through observations made during our waste and recycling audits. Each are described below.

Gable boxes (Milk/Juice Cartons) — These types of products were consistently present in the recycling bins. These are not recyclable in the program offered at Beck Hall by the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (see Section 8.2).

Paper products — There appeared to be a lack of recycling initiative from residents to recycle paper products (i.e. computer paper, lined paper). This was assumed due to observation of a large quantity of paper products in the waste stream at Beck Hall (see Section 10.0).

The identification of specific recycling concerns was accompanied by general education regarding recyclable materials.

Visual Aids:

Door Hangers — These were constructed from a firm paper in order to ensure a prolonged visual aid for the residents. The paper was bright blue in order to draw the attention of residents, and one sided to ensure that the reader was not overloaded with information. The door hangers utilised a visual format that consisted of pictures depicting products that should be placed in the recycling carts. These visuals were accompanied by a short piece of text to strengthen the pictorial message (see Appendix G). The door hangers specifically addressed the issue of paper products in the recycling stream at Beck Hall.

Posters - The posters were used to convey a more general approach to recycling issues. They served as a constant reminder to residents of the importance of recycling and offered encouragement to continue to practice recycling. The posters are simplistic and bright in colour to attract attention. The posters are entirely text based in bold and creative fonts. The amount of text on each poster was limited in an effort to hold the reader’s attention (see Appendix G). The posters were placed in all public areas at Beck Hall including the lobby and elevators, as well as the stairwells and waste rooms. Excluding the elevators, the research team placed all posters during the day of June 26 between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Will Pascoe placed the elevator posters because key access was required to open the display panel.

Laminated Information Poster — A poster provided by the Regional Municipality of Waterloo was placed on the storage closet door of each of the apartments by members of the research team. These laminated posters provide all the necessary information about the recycling program available to multi-residential units in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (See Appendix G). It was intended by Patti Cook and our research team that these posters remain in the apartments for an indefinite period of time.

Adhesives — Deanna Dakin provided us with an adhesive advertisement (stickers) that addressed the issue of gable boxes in the recycling stream. (see Appendix G). Gable Boxes are not recyclable in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. These adhesives were placed directly onto the recycling bags of every apartment at Beck Hall.

Official Regional Municipality of Waterloo Recycling stickers were also placed on the outdoor recycling bins to replace the worn and torn previous ones (see

Appendix G).

Important Notice — A small notice was placed in the mailbox of every Beck Hall resident. This flyer listed a few facts concerning the environment and the importance of recycling from a nation-wide perspective. This approach was taken to stimulate concern for the environment among residents and to draw the connection between recycling and conserving the environment (see Appendix G).

Campaign Strategy:

The methods of implementation for our education campaign depended on the visual promotion. While each involved a set method, only two of our visual promotions were combined with direct contact with Beck Hall residents.

The door hangers did not involve contacting the residents, and were placed on the exterior doorknob of each residential unit on June 28 between the hours 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.. Our research team felt that there was no need for direct contact as the door hangers conveyed a very simple message and were placed in such a fashion that the residents could not miss them.

An information hotline was set up and advertised on the posters in public areas. The hotline was intended to answer any questions residents of Beck Hall may have had which could not be answered by the information already provided. The hotline was available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, between the dates of June 25 to August 1, 2001. The placement of the posters did not require contact with the residents.

The laminated posters provided by the Regional Municipality of Waterloo were placed by members of our group on the storage closet door of each of the residential units. The adhesives were also placed on the recycling bag of each residence while the laminated posters were being placed (Appendix G). As this was the portion of our educational campaign that required direct contact with Beck Hall residents, our group generally felt that a don should accompany each member when entering the residential units. The advantage of this approach is outlined below. A time period was arranged with each of the dons to visit each of the floors in Beck Hall (each don is responsible for 3 floors in the building). They were placed over a two-day period from June 27 to June 28 between the hours of 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. depending on the schedule of the Beck Hall dons.

The method of approach for each residential unit was that the don would knock and explain that members of our research team were going to be placing a recycling poster on the closet door of each residential unit. It was further explained that the poster was required to remain where it was placed. Two members of our research team accompanied a don, and while one was placing the poster, the other would ask to see the resident’s recycling bag and place an adhesive sticker on the upper right hand corner of the bag.

There were various advantages and limitations to this method. The advantages included having a don accompany our research team. This reduced the potential for confrontation between our research team and the residents by providing both an explanation for our actions and a familiar authoritative figure that justified our presence and intentions. Also, having the don acting as a model regarding positive recycling habits has the potential to have a positive influence on the attitudes of the residents (McKenzie-Mohr, 1995). A limitation to this, however, was that the dons were not consistent in their explanations of what our research team was doing, and as a result the information provided to the residents varied, depending on which don spoke with them. However, it is our belief that this limitation did not seriously compromise the reliability of our research because two members of our research team were present to both provide further information and clarification. The direct contact with the residents during the application of the laminated posters and adhesives proved to be a great advantage in our attempts to educate the residents of Beck Hall. It was observed that many residents were unaware that they had recycling bags and this provided us with an opportunity to educate them on the recycling program available at Beck Hall and introduce them to the recycling resources available (see Section 12.0). An unfortunate limitation to the adhesive portion of our education campaign was that each residential unit was provided with two recycling bags, and our research team was only equipped with one adhesive for each residential unit.


The assumption of our research team regarding the education campaign was that if the attitudes of Beck Hall residents concerning recycling were changed through our educational efforts, then the behaviour of these residents towards recycling would change as well. On the basis of this assumption, our research team assumed that efforts to educate the residents would produce a change in the following areas:

-There would be a decrease in gable boxes in the recycling stream and an increase in gable boxes in the waste stream based on the education from the adhesives.

-There would be an increase in the amount of paper products such as computer and writing paper in the recycling stream and a decrease in these products in the waste stream based on the education from the door hangers.

-There would be a general decrease in recycled products in the waste stream and a decrease in contaminants (waste products found in the recycling bins) in the recycling stream based on the education from the posters and laminated posters.

9.4 Surveys

Our sampling method for the surveys was one of random sampling, which included all of the residents at Beck Hall who were available and willing to participate. This was an equitable survey because we were able to survey the majority of residents, which provided us with an adequately representative sample (see Section 10.0). By choosing random sampling we were confident that we had obtained a truly representative sample because the larger the sampling size, the smaller the sampling error (Palys, 1997). In order to allow all students to have an equal opportunity to participate in the study we conducted the surveys over the period of June 20 to June 21, 2001. Our research team visited the residential units between the hours of 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the 20th of June and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on both the 20th and 21st. Due to time constraints there were limitations to how many times we could revisit the rooms and as a result not all rooms had both residents fill out a survey, however, the majority of rooms (90 percent of the rooms) had at least one resident participate.

In order to avoid being a nuisance to the residents, our group felt we should perform the second survey in a less intrusive manner. Therefore, convenience sampling was performed for our post awareness campaign surveys. We positioned ourselves at the front entrance of Beck Hall and asked students to fill out a survey as they were passing by. They were also offered a complementary soft drink as a token of appreciation for their time. This survey was conducted on the day of July 11, 2001 between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. We realise our methods for the surveys were not administered in the same fashion due to time constraints, however, we were able to collect the same number of surveys as in the first study. A major limitation to this method was that we were unsure whether or not this was the first or second time the resident had filled out the survey. Therefore, not all residents had an equal opportunity to fill out a survey for a second time, however, once the data was analysed, the surveys did show that the demographic distribution of the pre and post campaign surveys were quite similar (see Section 10.0).

The style of questions we chose for our survey were ethical in that they did not require those surveyed to answer controversial questions and the surveys remained confidential. Palys (1997) suggests, some survey styles are more effective than others; So we have designed our survey following his suggestions. We used single response items, categorical-response items and Likert-type items. Our single response questions allowed the residents to answer questions using averages instead of exact numbers. The categorical-response items presented categories in which the residents could place themselves in, these categories only have two response alternatives, and are called dichotomous items (Palys, 1997).

Multiple categories have two major advantages over single response items in that it allows the resident to chose which category they would place themselves under and the accuracy is less likely to be effected by ballpark guesses. It was very important that our questions of this style where exhaustive so all possible alternatives were covered. Also, the questions needed to be mutually exclusive so as not to overlap between categories, allowing only one category to be chosen per respondent.

The last style of questions used in our survey consisted of Likert-type items, which used the Likert scaling procedures. In this case the item is an assertion and the resident’s task is to indicate the extent to which he or she agrees or disagrees with the assertion. Our assumption with this style is that the weighting between categories is equal. For example if a resident circled neutral and another circled concerned, the weighting ratio is the same as that of a resident who had circled very concerned compared to one who circled concerned.

We also sampled ERS 250 students for two reasons. First, they were meant to act as a control group. ERS 250 students were also sampled before and after the education campaign. However, they did not receive treatment of the independent variable. A control group is supposed to be equal to the study group except with respect to the independent variable (Palys, 1997). As Palys (1997) indicates, in field research it is sometimes hard to find a control group that is exactly like the study group. Differences are noted and the group can still serve as a useful comparison, however (Palys, 1997). If the independent variable did indeed have an effect on the study group, the survey results of the control group should remain the same before and after, as they were not subjected to the treatment, and those of the study group should vary (see Section 10.0). The second reason for surveying the ERS 250 class was because they were assumed to have a higher amount of knowledge about environmental issues and recycling than would the general student body. This would provide us with a core group with which we could compare education levels.

9.5 Rationale: Audience, Methods and Visual Format

The intended audience of this study was the Beck Hall administration, Beck Hall staff, current and future Beck Hall residents, University of Waterloo staff and administration, and Professor Susan Wismer. The research team hoped that increased recycling knowledge at Beck Hall would bring forth similar education campaigns across campus increasing recycling awareness on the campus as a whole. As a past WATgreen project found (Bator et al, 2001), recycling knowledge is lacking among Environmental Studies students, and awareness levels are assumed to be worse for the general University population.

The methods were chosen as they would yield a variety of data, both qualitative and quantitative, to serve as an analytical component of the paper. Given the time and resource constraints, our methods consider validity, representativeness, and utility to the greatest extent possible. These three concepts are essential to creditable research (Palys, 1997), and every attempt was made in this study to ensure their inclusion.

The rationale in choosing the visual and written format of this paper lies within Booth’s (1995) explanation of how to present within academia in a clear, concise, and well-organised manner. Flow charts and diagrams are utilized to convey large amounts of information in an easy to follow manner. The use of natural divisions and sections keeps the project organised and within focus.







9.6 Budget

The expenses for this research project were minimal. The budget consisted of the following:

Type Estimated Cost

Photocopying $47.00

Waste Audit Equipment Provided by Patti Cook

Film Expenses $10.00

Education Campaign Expenses

Door hangers $12.00

Laminated Posters Provided by Regional Municipality of Waterloo

Posters $30.00

Adhesives Provided by Deanna Dakin

Important Notice $4.00

Drinks: Survey $34.00

Presentation Materials $20.00

Other $10.00

Total Expenses $167.00



  1. Data Analysis and Conclusions

The data obtained through the survey and the audits was analysed to assess the relationship between attitudes and behaviour of the residents at Beck Hall. Each section of the survey was examined individually and related to the general attitudes. The behaviour of residents was investigated through the waste and recycling audit data. The numerical results from both before and after the education campaign were compared and contrasted to determine whether Beck Hall experienced an increased level of awareness with regard to recycling. The conclusions of the surveys and audits are drawn together and the relationship between attitudes and behaviour is discussed. Any analytical limitations encountered are mentioned as well.

The survey was administered with the purpose of determining the residents’ attitudes and awareness towards recycling and general environmental issues. The results of the two surveys conducted were compared to assess whether the education campaign had any effect on the attitudes of residents.

First, the survey results were coded as illustrated in Appendix I to ease the process of data analysis. Each answer was assigned a number and then entered into an Excel Spreadsheet (see Appendix I).

10.1 Demographics and Representativeness

Section C of the survey was intended to acquire general demographic information about the Beck Hall residents as an insurance that the respondents to our survey were representative of Beck Hall as a whole and were the same in the initial and the follow-up surveys.

Demographic results were to be compared to the actual representation of faculties in which Beck Hall residents are enrolled in to ensure that our survey was representative. This data was not available from the University of Waterloo Housing Office.

Comparisons of the representativeness of the first and second survey proved that the distribution of gender, age, faculty, and level of education completed were very similar, as illustrated in Table 4. As shown in Table 4, the gender, age, year of study, program of study and number of terms residing at Beck Hall are quite similar in both the initial and the follow-up surveys. The changes are all approximately within five percent, therefore they are not statistically significant and could be attributed to chance (Palys, 1997).

To ensure that our survey was representative of the students at the University, the following evaluation was made. This comparison operates under the assumption that recycling knowledge is related to the faculty in which a student is enrolled. This is a reasonable assumption given past research (Bator et al, 2001; Project Data, 2001).

Compared to the overall on campus student population, the faculty distribution is approximately the same as at Beck Hall. The faculties of AHS, ES, and Arts are underrepresented in our study. The faculties of Engineering and Math were over-represented with respect to the Beck Hall population. These results slightly weaken the ability to generalise our findings across campus. The make up of students at Beck Hall is not completely different from the general student population as they differ by relatively small amounts. Student Enrolment in each Faculty as of November 1, 2000 was: AHS, 6%. Arts, 26%. Engineering, 21%, ES, 8%. Math, 24%, Science, 15%. (Undergraduate Calendar, 2001).

The survey was also administered to the ERS 250 class as a control group. As shown in Table 5, the demographic information stayed close to consistent between surveys in this case as well. However, it should be noted that the gender make-up of the control group is very different from that of the Beck Hall respondents, which more closely illustrates the general population. Nevertheless, our research team did not find any relationship between gender and recycling efficiency in the literature research.

The class responded to the initial and follow-up surveys at the same time as Beck Hall residents but was not exposed to the education campaign.



Table 4: Demographic Information of Survey Respondents at Beck Hall.



Age (in years)

Year of Study

Program of Study

# of Terms at Beck Hall




























































Note: All Numbers are a percentage of total number of respondents. N=101 for initial survey and N=102 for follow-up survey.


Table 5: Demographic Information of Survey Respondents in ERS 250 class.



Age (in years)

Year of Study

Program of Study





















Note: All Numbers are a percentage of total number of respondents.

N=18 for initial and follow-up survey.


10.2 Survey Results, Section A

Section A of the survey asked three questions about participation and awareness of the recycling program (see Appendix E). As Table 6 demonstrates, the number of respondents that were aware of the recycling program at Beck Hall increased by ten percent. Also, the number of respondents that participate in Beck Hall’s recycling program increased by 14 percent. As hoped the change in answers for the control group was very small. This result could lead one to believe that our education campaign did have an effect on the participants’ attitudes and awareness. The number of respondents at Beck Hall that thought recycling to be important was initially high, and was not expected to be affected much by the education campaign. The change did turn out to be small (three percent).

Table 6: Respondents’ Answers to Question 1-3 in Survey.


Initial Survey (N=101)

Follow-up Survey (N=18)

Beck Hall





1. Aware of Recycling Program





2. Participate in Recycling





3. Think Recycling is Important






Initial Survey (N=102)

Follow-up Survey (N=18)

ERS 250





2. Participate in Recycling





3. Think Recycling is Important





Beck Hall and ERS 250 class respondents. Percentages are of total number of respondents.

Note: ERS 250 class did not answer question 1, as it did not apply.

We assume that these changes in the results above indicate that an alteration in respondents’ attitudes with respect to the questions asked did occur. Next, we analysed our data to determine if this change in attitudes did translate into a modification of behaviour.


10.3 Waste Audit Results

Our audit data indicates that the proportion of recycling in the waste stream improved after the education campaign.

As Figures 6 and 7 illustrate, there was a clear decrease in the amount of recyclables found in the true waste. Furthermore, in both graphs the proportion of true

Figure 6: Composition of Indoor Bin

waste actually increased, which could mean one of two things. One, there was simply more waste produced. If this were the case, however, recyclables would have increased as well, ceteris paribus. But since they did not, some factor, such as our education campaign, must have caused it to decrease. Secondly, any decrease in the percentage of the bin taken up by recyclables automatically increases either the percentage of true waste, or the organic waste categories, by the same amount. Nevertheless, in either case the evidence speaks for a decrease in recyclables found in true waste, regardless of the explanation of the increase of true waste and organic waste. However, Figures 6 and 7 also show that recylables found in true waste started decreasing prior to the education campaign. There are several explanations for this. First, the audits and conversations with

Figure 7: Composition of Outdoor Bin

Beck Hall employees could have had indirect effects before the education campaign began (see Section 7.0 and 8.5). There was no increase in recycling information coming from the Regional Municipality of Waterloo nor the University of Waterloo during the

time of the project, other than our promotional materials. Hence, the decrease could not have been caused by those influences. Also, the minimum point of the recyclables found in the true waste graph (Figure 6) is still not as low as all of the points on the same graph after the education campaign was completed. The outdoor bin does not show as strong of a trend of decrease in recyclables found in the waste. However, this bin cannot be assumed to be truly representative of the waste coming from Beck Hall as it may have been influenced by outside factors (see Section 8.0).

On average the amount of recyclables found in true waste decreased by 22 percent (Appendix H). All this evidence points towards our efforts (especially the education campaign) being the most likely cause of the drop in recyclables found in the true waste.

One could argue that this decrease in recyclables was simply caused by a decrease in the amount of recyclables purchased by the residents. The next logical step to disprove this statement was to consider the amount of material being recycled. If there was a decrease in recyclables in the true waste due to our education campaign, there should have been an increase in the amount of material being recycled. Our audit data shows just that. The amount of recyclable materials increased 22 percent for cardboard and 13 percent for boxboard and paper. There was, however, a decrease of eight percent in the total volume of recyclables in the plastic/can/aluminum bins. This decrease could illustrate the decrease of gable boxes in the recycling. Our visual observations indicated that there was a greater amount of gable boxes found in the recycle bins prior to the education campaign than after (see Appendix L). This not only serves as a potential explanation for the decrease in the amount of material in the blue bins, but also indicates the success of our targeted commodity in the education campaign.

All of this points to the conclusion that our education campaign was the most likely influence in decreasing the amount of recyclables found in the waste. This is to say that a change in behaviour was likely brought forth by influencing the awareness and attitudes of Beck Hall residents.

10.4 Recycling Audit Results in Relation to Survey

Recycling efficiency is not only concerned with the amount of recyclables found in true waste, but also must consider the contamination rates within the recycling bins. To ensure the lowest possible contamination rates in the recycling bins, one needs to do two things. First, one must make certain that residents are aware of what can and cannot be recycled. That is, recycling attitudes and awareness need to be influenced. Secondly, the actual behaviour needs to be assessed, in order to determine if the awareness has any impact on behaviour (see Section 11.0).

Question 5 of the survey (see Appendix E) was the focus of our survey as it was a direct question to residents on what items they thought were recyclable (it considered recycling knowledge). All categories asked in Question 5 had an increase in awareness from the initial survey (see Appendix K.1) meaning that an augmented percentage of people increased their knowledge of what can and cannot be recycled. However, the average number of categories respondents answered correctly remained consistent at seven out of eleven. There was a large increase in the number of respondents from the initial survey, who learned that gable boxes were not recyclable. The percentage of people that increased their awareness of whether or not gable boxes can or cannot be recycled was an impressive 34 percent (see Appendix K.1). As noted before, there was also a decrease of gable boxes found in the recycling bins and an increase of these product types in the true waste (see Appendix L). This leads to the conclusion that our education campaign did affect the attitudes and awareness with respect to the target commodity, which in turn translated into a change in recycling behaviour.

Control Group Results

We are aware that there may very well be other factors contributing to the increased awareness in recycling at Beck Hall. However, measures were taken to eliminate rival plausible explanations (Palys, 1997). This was done through the use of the control group as well as the immediate succession of the education campaign with the audits. Even though the control group was not identical to the subjects under study, it was assumed that since the control group were students and live in the same general area, that they would be exposed to the same media and recycling information as the residents at Beck Hall. The fact that the control group was comprised of environmentally concerned students emphasises our assumption since it is assumed that they would be more receptive to any additional recycling information that may have become available. The fact that the control group was relatively unchanged from the initial to the follow-up survey shows that the education campaign was the most likely cause of the increased awareness at Beck Hall (see Appendix K.1). Also, the surveys confirmed our assumption that ERS students would be more knowledgeable of what can and cannot be recycled. The short time span of the project eliminates the concern for maturation or history as a threat to internal validity (Palys, 1997). For further explanation of how other factors may have affected the awareness see Section 8.5.

Recycling Behaviour

Our assumption that increased awareness and a change in attitudes can translate into a change in behaviour was further substantiated by the assessment of recycling behaviour. Specifically, we considered the contamination rate in recycling bins. As shown in Figure 8, the contamination rates declined over time in the blue box (cart 3) and grey box (cart 1). There is a considerable amount of fluctuation, but the trend is a decreasing one. The most consistent drop occurs after the education campaign, and is likely due to a decrease in gable boxes found in the blue bins (see Appendix L). The changes in contamination rates in carts 1 and 2 are not large enough to draw any conclusions from Figure 8.

Average contamination decreased in cart 1 (seven percent) and in cart 3 (six percent). Average contamination stayed relatively consistent in cart 2 (Appendix H).

Figure 8: Contamination in Recycling Bins


10.5 Survey Results, Section B

As the literature review indicates (see Section 11.0), recycling efficiency and environmental awareness are related. Section B was added to the survey to determine respondents’ awareness levels of environmental issues and to see if a change in them occurred. However, due to time constraints and the complex logistics of attempting to influence environmental awareness, our success was limited in this regard. Respondents’ answer to their feelings regarding the environment changed very little from the initial to the follow-up survey (see Appendix K.2). The majority of Beck Hall respondents felt that they were "somewhat concerned", before and after the campaign.

Question 7 asked the respondents to list four environmental issues. Similarly, in this case our results were not of much use. Answers varied greatly in topics and no change was visible in the issues from the initial to the follow-up survey. The great range of topics that were mentioned made it impossible to draw any conclusions about respondents’ attitudes towards recycling. Waste management issues were mentioned up to 30 times, however, so were several other issues such as climate change and water pollution (see Appendix I).

10.6 Time-Series Design

To see what the trend of recylables and true waste looks like and if this term represents a typical "picture", a time-series analysis was to be put in place (Palys, 1997). The data required to create this comparison was not readily available as was assumed by the research group initially. Thus, we compared averages of waste compositions of past audits at Beck Hall and overall composition of waste at the University of Waterloo. The inability of being able to provide a "true" time-series design, limits our capabilities of drawing conclusions of the effects of our education campaign to a slight degree.

Derry et al (2001) found in their recycling audits at Beck Hall, that the recycling bins were 56 percent full on average, over a four-month term. In our study, the recycling bins were also 56 percent full on average (Appendix H). This indicates that the time period the study was conducted does most likely not constitute an extreme event with respect to the amount of material recycled.

Wright (1992) indicated that recyclables making up the waste stream ranged from 25 to 46 percent for the University as a whole. In our study, recyclables found in the true waste, ranged from a high of 25 percent prior to the education campaign, to a low of less than ten percent after the campaign. Wright’s study was completed in 1992, and hence the waste composition could have changed dramatically since then. Yet, as Patti Cook (2001) confirmed the average amount of recyclables found in the waste at the University still ranges around 20 percent. This is much higher than our after campaign results, and illustrates that our pre campaign results were not an extreme event and a decrease did not occur due to regression towards the mean (Palys, 1997).

10.7 Conclusions

In conclusion, a general trend of improved recycling awareness was acknowledged especially with respect to the issues that were targeted in our education campaign. From the initial survey to the follow-up survey, the awareness of the residents increased in both the recycling program itself as well as for specific commodities that were targeted. Not only did we assess a change in attitudes, but also witnessed this change transfer into an alteration of the residents’ behaviour regarding recycling through the audits.

As shown in Figure 9, our research concluded that the education campaign had an effect on awareness and attitudes, which in turn lead to an alteration of behaviour. The three concepts of awareness, attitudes and behaviour are inter-related. The discussion of attitudes and behaviour is continued in Section 11.0.

We concluded that recycling practices improved at the Beck Hall residence. This increase in environmental awareness concerning recycling and attitudes resulted in increased environmentally responsible behaviour towards recycling practices at the residence. The research group feels that we were successfully able to bring the theme of environmental stewardship across to our research participants, as we were able to get them to think more about their surroundings, how they affect their environment and how they can protect it.



11.0 Literature Review

The literature review section discusses a variety of sources ranging from waste management strategies through to recycling in multi-residential houses to social marketing techniques. The literature review is not only intended to supply background information on the topic, but more importantly to provide justification for the research methods utilized and support this study’s findings. The literature review is one of the key elements of this study’s approach to analysis and makes up one of the parts of triangulation (see Section 9.0 and 10.0). By familiarising ourselves with relevant literature we were able to assess our problem areas and where we might be able to achieve some success (Palys, 1997). By reviewing literature we determined what steps others have taken in similar studies and hoped to use that knowledge to fill in gaps in our study.

The sources are divided into the relevant categories.

11.1 Past WATgreen Projects

There have been many WATgreen projects on the topic of recycling and waste management. The following, however, are particularly relevant for this project.

Derry et al (2001) wanted to find out if it would be profitable for the University to take over the responsibility of the recycling pick-up for the colleges and residences. They audited recycling bins in all residences, including Beck Hall, on four occasions to see how much revenue the University could generate by sorting and selling the recyclables themselves. Their data was used in our analysis as a comparison to our own audit findings in order to see if the results are typical. This undertaking was completed in the analysis section (see Section 10.0).

Konig and Whitehead (1994) tried to see if an alternative recycling system would increase recycling efficiency in Village 1 residence. The new system included putting recycling bins in every room, plus an increase in recycling education to the residents. As our study has lead us to believe that education can increase the recycling efficiency (see Section 10.0), so too did Konig and Whitehead (1994) argue that more information helped improve the recycling efficiency in their research.

Bator et al (2001) illustrated that past studies found a gap in recycling knowledge among University of Waterloo students. They concluded that there still was a lack of recycling knowledge among Environmental Studies students and felt that the deficiency in awareness would be even greater among the rest of the campus. They suggested that awareness be increased through the use of posters and information at the recycling sites.

Past WATgreen projects showed that increased education and recycling efficiency are related (Konig and Whitehead, 1994; Bator et al, 2001), and our study made a successful attempt at confirming those findings (see Section 10.0).

11.2 Waste and Recycling Audits

In order to gain a better understanding of the proper waste and recycling audit methods, we reviewed the Campus Waste Auditing Guide (Rowbotham and Rathbone, 1994) and adapted it to fit our situation (see Section 9.0). We followed this approach to ensure creditability and to keep with University of Waterloo standards.

11.3 Sources Specific to University/Institutions

Obviously, recycling efficiency is not an issue foreign to other institutions. Identifying similar initiatives at other institutions illustrate some of the common problems encountered, but also serve as a comparison to this study’s results.

The University of Toronto Green Master Plan (1990), for example, reported that the University was in need of a wide scale awareness campaign. They thought that increased awareness through flyers, as done in our project, would be the best approach to increase recycling habits.

Creighton (1998) also found that at various universities in the United States student-run programs were often the most successful at bringing the awareness message across. She also indicated that universities are in a unique position in that they are able to continually try new approaches originated from innovative student projects in partnerships with faculty and staff.

One of our observations was that Beck Hall and any other University residence tend to have a high student turn-over rate (see Section 12.0). Pal-tech Engineering (1990) found that in their study to implement a Campus Community Recycling Strategy for McMaster University, regular promotion of the University’s recycling program was essential to its success due to the temporary student population. They determined that a university’s recycling program’s success is largely dependent on participation, recycling knowledge, and willingness to co-operate. Our study attempted to increase these same factors through an education campaign.

11.4 Social Marketing

Social Marketing refers to the marketing of a good or service that has a positive effect on society as a whole (Kennedy, 2001). Recycling reduces resource use and improves environmental quality through waste reduction, hence, imposing a positive effect on the greater environment. Therefore, it is appropriate to make use of social marketing techniques when attempting to "sell" the idea of recycling. Social marketing stresses the importance of assessing the difference between attitudes and behaviour, as well as multiple exposure to the same material before one will change his/her behaviour and/or attitude (McKenzie-Mohr, 1995)

Palys (1997) states that the relationship between what people say about their beliefs, attitudes and/or opinion when asked, and what they actually do when faced with a real or simulated behavioural choice might differ. Hence, we took into consideration the attitudes and behaviours of the students who live at Beck Hall, as they are not necessarily the same. However, for the purpose of this study we did assume that behaviour and attitudes are related, and that one could influence the other. To determine if there is a difference between attitudes and behaviour we used surveys and observations to measure attitudes, and audits to determine behaviour (Figure 10). By knowing people’s attitudes we hoped it would help us understand or predict their behaviour (Palys, 1997). There are five considerations Palys (1997) uses when examining the correspondence between attitudinal and behavioural data.

Figure 10: Recycling Attitudes and Behaviour: Assessing

the Difference. Source: Project Data, 2001.

The first is situational thresholds, our survey was interested in knowing if the students were aware of recycling in their building, then whether or not they participated. This situational threshold is, if they know about the first, are they willing to do the second.

The second correspondence is different stimuli where it is hard to draw a conclusion of inconsistency if the stimuli are not the same. Competing motives is the third correspondence between attitudes and behavioural action. In our case, the students may be concerned about recycling, but its more convenient to use the garbage chute. These competing motives like convenience, time constraint, and willingness, all contribute to different behavioural actions.

Fourth, availability of alternatives was a limitation at Beck Hall because of the infrastructure of the building. Unfortunately, it is difficult to give the students an alternative, such as large recycling bins on each floor because of the way the building was designed (see Section 8.0).

Finally, the normative description of behaviour also indicates that attitudes and behaviour differ. If the norm is to recycle, then students are more likely to participate, however, if recycling is not promoted at Beck Hall, students are less likely to participate because of the norm.

Kennedy (2001) stresses the importance of multiple exposure to the same medium, before people will respond. He indicates that it sometimes takes a relatively long period of time until people recognise the promotion. Even though our project had to be completed over a relatively short period of time, we attempted to maximise the exposure of recycling material to the Beck Hall residents (see Section 9.3).

Doug McKenzie-Mohr (1995) explains the difference in attitudes and behaviour in regards to sustainable living. He argues that in order for changes to occur in behaviour, internal and external barriers in attitudes of individuals must be determined. To overcome these barriers he suggests using tactics like commitment, modelling, norms and social diffusion.

To achieve commitment McKenzie-Mohr (1995) suggests asking participants to do smaller initiatives first, which will increase the likelihood of a larger behaviour task being done later. When individuals agree to a small request it alters the way they perceive themselves and will later perform a larger task due to initial introduction to the topic. Commitment to a behaviour task will only be done if people express an interest in the topic, therefore, for commitment to be effective it must be voluntary.

In our study, we first asked the students to fill out a survey, which took very little time, but allowed students to start thinking about their recycling habits. This small initiative informed participants of the recycling program at Beck Hall and gave them the opportunity to start participating if they were not already doing so. Because of our introduction of the topic to the students, the second time our research group came to put up recycling posters the students where aware of our initiatives and were willing to have the posters hung in their rooms.

Attitudes and behaviour are connected through modelling and norms. McKenzie-Mohr (1995) gives examples of a case study where people have looked to the behaviour of others to determine how they should respond. By having a model, people tend to respond in a similar manner. If they are unsure of how they should behave, observing others is an important source of information. It may be more difficult to model recycling at Beck Hall because of the infrastructure of the building, students are not able to see neighbours recycling regularly because of the location of the recycling bins. For a norm to be effective it must be visible (McKenzie-Mohr, 1995). People need to see what is acceptable by others in order to follow their role. As an example, McKenzie-Mohr (1995) placed composting stickers on individuals recycling boxes to show how many people where using backyard composters. As a visual in our study we placed stickers on the recycling bags as a reminder that milk and juice cartons (gable boxes) can not be recycled, this was part of our educational campaign (see Section 9.3).

People tend to indicate their attitudes through their behaviour (McKenzie-Mohr, 1995). McKenzie-Mohr (1995) illustrates this by problem-focused coping or emotion focused coping, which appears to be determined by their perception of how much control they have to correct the problem. If participants perceive they have a significant amount of control they will use problem-focused coping, which is taking direct action to alleviate the problem. However, if the participant perceives they have very little control, emotion focused coping is used which involves ignoring the issue. For many global issues people’s perception of how much control they have is largely determined by their sense of community. If they feel they will have an impact, they are likely to act, where as if they feel there is little common purpose, they are likely to perceive that there is little they can do personally.

It is important to ensure that students at Beck Hall feel a sense of belonging and community. This may be hard due to high turn-over rates, busy student schedules, and apartment style design.

The final suggestion for the connection between attitudes and behaviour is social diffusion (McKenzie-Mohr, 1995). This occurs when adapting a new behaviour, like recycling, as it is a result of friends, family members or colleagues introducing the topic. This is a powerful process, but has been under-utilised in promoting sustainable behaviour (Mc-Kenzie-Mohr, 1995; Kennedy, 2001). Uncovering the barriers and following these suggestions the connection between attitudes and behaviour can hopefully be determined. As this section illustrates, it is hard to determine how much awareness is needed to change behaviour. However, this project operates upon the assumption that our education campaign can change behaviour, while at the same time, we have kept in mind the time and resource limitations.

11.5 Recycling in Multi-Residential Buildings

Now that municipal recycling systems have been set up across the province, attention is being focused on ways to improve current recycling methods. Program convenience, increased diversion rates, education and cost effectiveness are issues that are constantly addressed in improving multi-residential recycling programs (Sinclair, 1997).

Beck Hall Residence fits the description of a multi-residential apartment building. Multi-residential units, as opposed to single family dwellings, display unique properties with respect to recycling efficiency that need to be considered.

Hainsworth (2001), Smith (2000) and Walker (1996) all discovered in their research that the implementation of multi-residential recycling programs have not been as successful as the curb-side single family home collection. They also indicated that people with increased knowledge and greater environmental awareness are more likely to recycle.

In Walker’s opinion (1996), experience is another factor relating to participation rates. He strongly indicates that high turn-over rates in apartment buildings (such as in Beck Hall in our case) lead to very poor recycling rates. This is due to the fact, Walker (1996) argues, that residents do not have a real chance to "learn" the recycling program and how it works.

Beck Hall does not have a wide variety of age groups residing at the residence (see Section 10.0). However, Walker (1996) found in his study that age is not a determinant of recycling participation rates.

11.6 Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability

The United Nations Agenda 21 declares waste management as essential in maintaining the quality of the environment and especially in achieving sustainability (UN, 2001). The act of recycling by means of a municipally organised recycling system promotes environmental sustainability. Participants in the program practice environmental stewardship by extending the life of natural resources, lessening the impact of manufacturing processes of virgin materials and reducing the amount of land set aside for sanitary landfills (Sinclair, 1997).

University campuses are just as much a component of our society as any other individual. Therefore, it can be argued that they have an obligation to do their part in practicing environmental stewardship to achieve sustainability (Eagan and Orr, 1992; Keniry, 1995). Our group also felt that because universities are expected to be a place of learning and high "quality thinking", they should serve as a model to the rest of the community in all fields, including environmental performance.

11.7 General Recycling Issues

Canadians may take for granted the amount of land available for waste disposal and assume that it is readily capable of absorbing unlimited quantities of solid waste (Sinclair, 1997). But as Sinclair (1997) points out, in actuality, the amount of land suitable for landfills is diminishing rapidly, especially near large cities.

Without new and innovative waste management strategies, our society may soon "drown" in its own waste products. Our project will not change the world, but it will at least make a contribution to altering a small part of the system. Added up, small changes CAN change the world! However, as this overall literature review section indicated participation of all members of the community is essential for success of any environmental project. Specifically, recycling has the advantage of being a "social norm" and maintains a high profile as waste disposal is part of everybody’s daily life (Sinclair, 1997). Hopefully, this will not only lead to increased recycling rates, but also a reduction in the amount of waste generated. Waste reduction is just as integral a part of the recycling strategies as recycling itself, yet it is beyond the scope of this study.


12.0 Other Observations and Identified Limitations

Throughout the time of the study there have been several observations noted that were both positive and negative. Along with the observations several unexpected limitations arose. One of the most obvious limitations that the group observed occurred when conducting the surveys. Those limitations being that there were some language barriers with some of the residents. Though the group did not encounter any resident in Beck Hall who could not speak English at all, there were several residents with limited understanding of the language. This became a problem when the residents had trouble understanding some of the questions on the survey and also when the group was distributing posters to people’s rooms. The residents who had difficulty with the language were few, and the issue did not present a major problem in administering the survey or in distributing the posters in the rooms. However, we felt the issue was significant enough to note.

Another limitation that was somewhat expected, was that several residents were not home at the expected time. This meant that the group had to return to the room several times in order to ensure that all rooms were sampled and that they all received a poster. This limitation was overcome by a lot of extra "leg-work".

During the administration of the survey and hanging of posters in the residents’ rooms, it was observed that many residents knew little about their room-mates and even less about other residents on their floor. This observation led us to believe that for many of the residents, there is little social interaction due to busy school schedules, high building turnover rates and other obligations. We assume that this limited amount of social connection will lead to a lesser sense of community which as described in Section 11.4 may result in reduced participation in the recycling program (McKenzie-Mohr, 1995). Also through observation while distributing the posters, all members of the group observed that many residents were unaware that they were in possession of a recycling bag. It was not uncommon when asked where the recycling bag was, in order to place an adhesive on it (see Section 9.3), that they did not know that it was located in their doorway closet. Contrary to the uninformed residents, many already had a recycling poster on their closet door. Approximately five residents had the posters that were given to them when they moved in to the building, though they were outnumbered by the twenty to thirty residents who were unaware of their recycling bags location.


13.0 Participants’ Comments

Both written comments by survey participants and verbal comments made by Beck Hall residents were recorded throughout the research process by the research team. These comments are important to note as it is essential in research to assign a "voice" to the study participants (Palys, 1997). Since it is the participants’ attitudes and behaviour under study it is crucial that their opinions be voiced. Participant comments may prove to be helpful in research of this design as insightful comments could potentially provide new ideas, or describe an avenue not considered as relevant by the research team.

Providing participants with the opportunity to comment on the research being conducted further emphasises the democratisation of our research design. It was our aspirations at the outset of our research to take a bottom up approach, involving all of the actors rather than a hierarchical method or top-down approach where we would have assumed that we were fully aware of all that was involved (Palys, 1997).

Many participants were receptive to our research and offered valuable first hand insights into the general attitude of residents toward recycling at Beck Hall. The maintenance and housekeeping personnel as well as some residents expressed that they were "glad to see something being done". Some residents of Beck Hall commented that they were impressed with the posters.

Some residents expressed the view that if recycling was made more convenient by placing a blue box in every room they would be more apt to recycle. Others expressed that they could not remember what is and is not recyclable and stated that they thought others felt the same way. An improvement was suggested to make recycling information more "simple and clear". Some participants admitted to being just "too lazy" to recycle.

Other participants were less receptive of our research at Beck Hall, criticising the survey. They felt the survey was too ambiguous and that it portrayed the residents of Beck Hall as not being concerned about recycling at all. Some felt that their individual small contribution could not have an effect on the larger problem.

A few residents mentioned that they were beginning to become annoyed with the research being carried out. Some helpful reduce and re-use tips were shared, such as using margarine containers as "Tupperware" and sharing magazines with others. Only one resident at Beck Hall called the Info-line to ask where the recycling numbers on plastic containers could be found.

Participants’ comments were valued in our research and the research team made an attempt to work with all actor groups (see Section 8.0) involved right from the beginning of the study.


14.0 Recommendations

It is recommended that education concerning recycling be ongoing at Beck Hall.

Education should be continued to ensure that all residents who live in the building are aware of the recycling program and are provided with the proper hardware (bags) and information about recycling. When residents move in to Beck Hall they should be shown where their recycling bags are kept and where the recycling facilities are located. An information session at the beginning of term may be helpful in educating residents on how multi-residential recycling operates. The differences in recycling bins should be clearly explained as well as a description of all of the recyclables that are acceptable in Waterloo. A recycling poster that outlines the program should remain in all of the residential units in a highly visible area. Periodically, new posters encouraging recycling should be set up in the public areas of the building. This could possibly be the responsibility of the dons. If any change is made to the recycling program available, clear notification of this fact should be placed throughout the building. Information concerning the benefits of recycling, (i.e. the quantity of energy saved each year by recycling pop cans vs. manufacturing cans from raw materials) could be posted to act as encouragement to residents to continue to recycle.

It is also crucial that the communication between students, dons, maintenance and housekeeping and the student life co-ordinator continues to be fostered.

By having open and direct lines of communication, the operation of waste management will run more smoothly at Beck Hall. This is true especially for the end of term when residents’ are moving in and out of Beck Hall and may be unclear of where and how to dispose of unwanted belongings (see Appendix A). If a problem is detected at any level, communication and input from all levels will work to solve the issue in an efficient manner.

Recycling education should also be promoted and maintained in other University of Waterloo residences.

The education techniques employed at Beck Hall could serve as a model for other residences. Simple posters and other promotional material to encourage recycling should be a constant in all buildings since it is only by repeated reminders that any change in recycling behaviour can be realized. It is strongly suggested that an overall Recycling Education Protocol be put in place for all University of Waterloo residences. A sample protocol follows in the next Section.

15.0 Recycling Education Protocol

The following is a recycling protocol to be incorporated into the waste management plan for both new and existing residences. The protocol is intended to aid its users in conducting an education campaign focused on at most two target commodities combined with general recycling practice education. The identification of target commodities and the development of the visual aids is based on advice received from Deanna Dakin, with the Waste Management Division for the Region of Waterloo (2001). The identification of a community leader in regards to the establishment of norms, a model, and identifying a respectable individual was based on the findings of McKenzie-Mohr (1995) and Kennedy (2001) in his study regarding social community marketing. This protocol sets out a base education campaign. It is anticipated that those who implement it will both modify it to their situation and add to its original composition.




Protocol For A Recycling Education Campaign at UW Residences

The following are the steps to be taken in implementing an education campaign towards recycling within University of Waterloo Residences.

Step 1. Identification of Target Commodities

Target commodities should be identified through an analysis of both waste and recycling audit data. This analysis will consist of determining commodities that are consistently appearing in the inappropriate disposal stream. A maximum number of two commodities should be targeted. These commodities should be identifiable by students to ensure that the resulting education campaign is understood. Any target commodity education should be combined with general information regarding recycling practices. This will ensure that potential questions regarding other commodities are answered.

Step 2. Creation of Visual Aids

It is imperative that visual aids remain simplistic to ensure that the message conveyed is straight forward and concise. To ensure simplicity there should be minimal use of text and maximum possible use of graphics. The use of graphics should be combined with various colours to draw the attention of the viewer. Each form of visual aid (poster, door-hanger) should address one of the chosen target commodities. Do not limit the education campaign to one form of visual aid.

Step 3. Implementation of Education Campaign

Along with the placement of the visual aids a community leader should be identified (for example a residence Don). This leader needs to be a respected member of the residence community. This leader would serve as a model for the residents by promoting the message of the education campaign and establishing it as a norm within the residence. The community leader would need to be educated regarding the chosen solution for the identified target commodities in order to ensure that the message is properly conveyed to the residents.

The visual aids should be placed above recycling facilities and utilities (blue boxes, bins, and bags) so as to be seen by the resident when they are recycling. The intended message of the visual aid should correspond with the location of its placement. i.e.: education regarding the recycling of paper products should be placed within the workspace of the residents.

Step 4. Continuation of the Education Campaign

The education campaign should be continual throughout the term of residence, and should start anew for the following term. The amount of education should be extensive so as to continually present the residents with the intended message of the education campaign. The visual aids should also be placed throughout the entire residence, and should not be limited to the waste disposal area of the residence.


16.0 Future Studies

There are numerous future studies, which could be done to improve the waste management at Beck Hall. Composting is an excellent way to reduce the amount of organic waste entering the waste stream. Our research indicated that a large proportion of the waste stream is made up of organic material. A future study on composting in multi-residential apartments could be performed by installing single unit composters or one large composter for the building.

Another study that would help to reduce the residential waste at Beck Hall would be to study residents’ consumption habits. By studying the consumption habits an education campaign could be developed to inform residents of the alternatives they can take in reducing their total waste consumption. Informing consumers about the impact they have on the environment is important so they can make informed decisions on products they decide to buy. By targeting the consumers’ consumption habits, reduction in wasteful practices can occur, which will lower their total waste.

A very beneficial study to improving the recycling at Beck Hall would be to examine different recycling systems. By changing the location of the recycling bins for example, placing recycling bin on each floor, or in garbage rooms, may encourage more students to participate in the program.

Different approaches to education could also be another consideration for a future study in recycling at Beck Hall. Creating additional methods to inform residents about recycling is an important aspect in educating residents. There should be continuous studies done at Beck Hall to continue reducing the waste generated by the residents.

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