UBC Undergraduate Research

Accessibility and Contamination : A Mixed-Methods Study of How Location May Affect Green Bin Contamination at UBC Olsen, Kyle; Stainsby, Sannah; Tkachuk, Claire; Ng, Sharlene Siwai


This research report is written in collaboration with the Social Ecological and Developmental Studies (SEEDS) sustainability program at the Vancouver campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, BC. The research and data collection are conducted under the guidance of SEEDS representative Bud Fraser. The study explores the waste management practices at UBC through the assessment of waste bin contamination levels of 47 waste bins located at the South of UBC. Given the multi-faceted importance of reducing green bin contamination, this research report examines the problem of contaminated green bins across the UBC campus. Specifically, we attempt to answer whether there is a relationship between green bin accessibility and their level of contamination. ‘Accessibility’ is explored from two perspectives: 1) the relative location of green bins to building (front/back), and 2) green bin proximity to pedestrian pathways. As of April 2020, SEEDS do not have a comprehensive database of locations and quantities of waste bins. This is one of the deliverables of our project, and perhaps what will be of most use. Using the methods of geographical information science (GIS), this research problem is explored through the creation of a database, two maps, and a spatial analysis of these maps. Overall, there were no major findings in support of a relationship between green bin contamination and accessibility. However, green bins located in remote locations (in the back of buildings; further from pedestrian pathways) tended to have lower rates of contamination. Notably, the findings and research of this report have been significantly reduced by the unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19. Consequently, we were unable to collect and analyze data collected from our additional, originally intended research methods: semi-structured interviews of the UBC operational waste management staff and an ethnographic waste-collection ride-along. 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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