Increasing Recycling Through Investigative Research

By Alessandro Lallas- University Apartments


We’re back! 

Our team is on track to reach the goals set within the timeline we outlined last quarter. Our stakeholder, Ken MacKenzie, has instructed the University Apartments staff to record the weight of the trash throughout the quarter as we experiment with our designated strategies to see if they improve the diversion rate. We have collected data for about three weeks without making any changes to the disposal units. This will give us an idea of where the diversion rate currently stands and we will refer to these numbers once we gather the data after the changes are made.

Within the next couple weeks we will send out an email to the residents introducing ourselves and explaining our goal to increase the diversion rate. Then, we will make the changes to the desired disposal areas and continue collecting data. Each of our five conditions will be implemented in three areas so that we have accurate results. In addition, one of our conditions is a no change condition so we can measure the normal fluctuation in recycling from one week to the next. This will also serve as a control group to ensure that any reported change in diversion rate is due to our independent variable (the change we make) and not a confounding variable. The only setback we may encounter soon is that one of the changes we wish to make involves replacing the old signage with improved signs. Though we have already pieced together the design, the new signs may not be manufactured by the time we hope to implement our conditions. In this case we will hold off on the signs until we receive them and situate them as soon as possible. Meanwhile there will be a total of six disposal areas with no change instead of only three.

We hope to compare the different changes to each other to identify which yields the most significant increase in diversion rates. We will then combine changes so each disposal area has multiple modifications to see if we can further boost these rates. At the end of our experimental stage we will conclude which improvement or improvements have made the largest impact. We will implement this to all the disposal units for the long term so the University Apartments can continue to enjoy higher recycling rates. Ultimately, the scope of our project is to increase diversion rates on the long run and through our research we will make the necessary changes to make this goal a reality.