WASTE DIVERSION: HOW WELL DO DALHOUSIE STUDENTS ON STUDLEY CAMPUS KNOW WASTE REGULATIONS?
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Halifax Regional Municipalities (HRM) currently has a solid diversion rate of 59%. While this rate is relatively high, more can still be done to increase this number. Non-residential uses account for about 58% of total landfill disposal in HRM. Therefore, it is important for large institutions like Dalhousie University to understand their waste disposal trends. Waste disposal is also a large economic cost to the Dalhousie, therefore better waste diversion at the source provides economic benefits to the university. This research project looked at the waste sorting knowledge of students on Studley Campus of Dalhousie University. Using commonly misplaced materials, the study used a survey to test students’ knowledge of waste sorting and compared it to their perceived level of knowledge. The survey also collected demographic data such as age, year of study, faculty, and hometown in an attempt to study correlations between the data. A total of 300 surveys were completed by randomly selected participants at the Student Union Building and at the Killam Memorial Library. This is not a representation sample of the population. The survey revealed that students from provinces other than Nova Scotia tended to have a slightly better knowledge of waste sorting than those from Nova Scotia. Generally, students had a good understanding of their waste sorting knowledge, with student that perceived a higher level of knowledge doing better than those who had perceived a lower level of knowledge. The average score for all respondents was 6.5/10. The survey also revealed that certain items – coffee cups, clean tin foil, clean plastic wrap, and plastic bottle lids – were frequently missorted about 50% of the time. These items are common, and could represent a significant portion of missorted waste. These results may be used to guide further research on waste sorting trends and could be used to create initiatives to improve waste diversion. Item that were commonly missorted should be added to the labelling on the waste receptacles to allow those who want to learn the opportunity to do so.