Waste Knowledgeability on Studley Campus
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Waste being sorted improperly around Dalhousie University’s Studley campus is an obvious issue. Improper sorting methods on campus can account for thousands of pounds of contaminated waste ending up in landfills every year, and this costs the university in unnecessary landfill fees. This is why our group decided to conduct our research project on the Dalhousie populations knowledgeability of proper waste sorting guidelines, asking the question “has the population on Dalhousie University’s Studley campus been educated on how to properly dispose of waste according to the Halifax municipal waste guidelines and how does this translate into their actual sorting habits?” To test what the population thinks they know about the waste sorting guidelines, we created a survey (Appendix A.) and advertised it via poster (Appendix B.) through four staple Studley campus buildings. To determine what the population really knew, we conducted a waste audit of those same buildings and measured the amount of waste being thrown out and compared it to the amount of contaminant waste that was pulled from each bag. We found that contaminants were being disproportionately thrown into the garbage bin and that over 18% of all waste we collected was put into the wrong receptacle. Comparing this to our qualitative survey results, we discovered that over 80% of our participants claimed to be knowledgeable of the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) waste sorting guidelines and did not find them confusing. This indicates to us that a knowledge gap exists between what the Dalhousie population thinks they know about sorting their waste and what they actually know. We found the majority of people support modifications to the Dalhousie waste sorting program, and identified that people would be most likely to benefit from additional posters around the buildings of particularly hard to sort waste items with new sorting items that were area specific, such as Subway wrappers in the Killam, or Pizza Pizza boards in the Life Sciences Centre (LSC).