UBC Undergraduate Research

Introducing a “Plastic Bag Only” Bin to Reduce Contamination in Compost Wearmouth, Georgia; Zhang, Zeyi; Hong, Stella YingYi; Jiang, Lizzy; Tao, Steven


Plastic contamination in compost is a serious issue that affects not only the composting process, but also natural life and the environment. Though many materials are considered pollution in compost, plastic bags seem to be the most prevalent and concerning, especially at the University of British Columbia and their endeavor to reduce waste and increase diversion (Zero Waste Action Plan, 2014). The present study examined whether the introduction of a bin solely for plastic bags would reduce the number of plastic contaminants in the compost bin. To determine this, two conditions were observed: the control condition with no bin for plastic bags, and the experimental condition in which the bin was implemented, along with a poster, and a sticker that clearly says “No Plastic”. Statistical analyses of the data, collected over 22 days, revealed that there was no significant relationship between the implementation of a plastic bag only bin and the number of contaminants in the food scraps bin. These results demonstrate an increased need for more substantial research toward zero plastic pollution in student residence compost bin. 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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