UBC Undergraduate Research

Increasing education, awareness, participation and effectiveness in composting on campus Boyle, Ali; Elliott, Janice; Keating, Mary Ann; McIntyre, Christina; Stephens, Teya; White, Wendi; Zhang, Keith


UBC Waste Management (UBCWM) continues to struggle with promoting awareness of the composting program at UBC, as well as preventing contamination of the compost bins. Our report focused on the Student Union Building (SUB), as the SUB is a highly frequented area, and serves as a microcosm of the larger campus. This report attempts to address the reason for the issues surrounding composting, as well as provide some recommendations towards improving the current program, through investigating a paper towel composting program and devising more effective signage. Background research included previous AGSC 450 UBCFSP reports and the Sauder Social Marketing Plan for UBC Food Services. Our team visually assessed the composting bins and signs in the SUB, before holding a meeting with Nadine Stunzi of UBCWM. Focus groups were then conducted, to determine the current level of compost awareness, and discuss attributes of effective signs. To investigate existing paper towel composting programs, phone interviews were performed with four Canadian institutions. Research revealed that students are unaware of composting at UBC, and that current marketing tools to promote awareness are not effective. The main issues discussed in the focus groups were a lack of education and a need for clearer signs addressing contamination issues. Implementation of a paper towel composting program has been greatly successful at other institutions, but has potential to upset the carbon:nitrogen ratio of UBC compost if food waste does not increase correspondingly. Before food waste can be increased, it is critical to address the issue of contamination. This can be approached by adopting a uniform, invariable sign program at all food venues, possessing effective characteristics as identified by our focus groups. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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