Reducing Disposable Cups on Dalhousie Campus: A Second Cup Case Study
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An enormous amount of waste is being generated on campus through the use of disposable cups. Massive amounts of waste are generated by coffee cups each week and are sent to landfills. Landfills are unsustainable and cause pollution, emissions, and have negative effects on the environment as a whole. Dalhousie has the potential to be a greener campus by moving towards greater sustainability. Reducing the use of disposable coffee cups would accomplish this goal and inspire students and faculty at other universities to do the same. The main objectives of this project were to reduce the use of disposable coffee cups on campus; to investigate the incentives, motivation, and obstacles in using reusable travel mugs on campus; to determine the feasibility of implementing compostable cups on campus as a replacement for the current disposable coffee cup; and to investigate the possibility of ultimately eliminating disposable coffee cups on campus. The project was designed to accomplish these objectives and four research tools were used. Literature reviews were conduct for reference and baseline data and interviews were performed to discover information, opinions, and current policies on disposable cups. The survey was designed to portray the characteristics of customers and discover their behaviour and their motives behind their behaviour, and observation of customers was used to record observed behaviour. It was discovered that 81% of those surveyed own a reusable mug but 82% of those observed do not use their reusable mug. The main obstacles in regularly using a travel mug were identified as “forgetting to bring it” and “keeping it clean.” The 10 cent incentive for bringing a reusable mug was found to be very ineffective. Half of those surveyed were not aware of the discount and the majority of customers indicated it was not a good enough incentive. The recommended approach after reviewing the results is a three stage program of sustainability. First awareness needs to be raised, all cups need to be replaced with biodegradable cups, and the end goal is to eliminate disposable cups and replace with travel mugs.