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Richard DeCola, John Delaney, & Daniel Donohoe

Environmental Issues, ENVL 4305

Dr. Dan Moscovici

September 18, 2018

Waste Management: An Examination of Recycling Rates at Stockton University


Introduction:

A trip around any American institution will be evidence that recycling programs are an accepted
part of everyday society, a convenient and modern attempt to solve the major societal problem of waste
management. Plenty of evidence exists that recycling was carried out by the ancient Romans (Barkai,
Lemorini & Vaquero, 2015, p.1), while recycling on an industrial level was actually in decline in the U.S.
before World War One (Cooper, 2008, p.1). It is suggested by (Durgekhar, 2016,) that the successful
waste disposal is a process that needs to begin at home, as a “duty of care” for the betterment of society
(p.146). However, many individuals often fail to recycle correctly, if at all. It has been established that
certain categories of people exhibit higher rates of recycling than others. Seniority in both age and
educational level of groups tend to produce improved behaviors (Tabernero, Hernandez, Cuadrado, Luque
& Pereira, 2015, p.198), while men are less likely to participate than women (Izagirre‐Olaizola, Sainz &
Vicente‐Molina, 2015, p.32). According to (Oke, 2015,), more research needs to be carried out to
determine the reasons why recycling behaviors at the workplace are less-well understood, compared with
households (p. 7189).

At a larger scale, national governments face issues that have direct effects upon the success of
recycling programs and how their citizens might benefit from them. Such has been the case in Ireland,
where “shortcomings in the design of an appropriate implementation structure” (Connaughton, 2004, p.
201) and obstacles to public participation (Davies, 2008, p. 167) hinder effective WM planning. Some
nations in Southeast Asia have been found to place too much stock in the international trade of waste
products, resulting in a failure to improve treatment facilities. (Ray, 2008, p. 22)

A university environment is of interest as behaviors at these institutions have been shown to have
their own characteristics. Universities are in a position to “increase objective environmental knowledge”
among students, which is likely to improve decision making with regard to recycling (Izagirre‐Olaizola et
al, 2015, p.32). This is especially true for students who believe that environment preservation and the
need to recycle play a key role in shaping their identity (Loureiro & Kaufmann, 2016, p.225). The focus
of the research carried out for this paper was an analysis of the recycling habits of students who inhabit
residencies at Stockton University, Galloway, New Jersey. We believe that this study will provide useful
insights into the specific nature of recycling at Stockton, while disclosing shortcomings in the program,
along with possible remedies.
Methodology:

Lab groups were tasked with selecting a distinct location on campus to analyze the trash and
recycling of the location. The lab group selected the freshmen “Housing Two”. See Figure 1.

Figure 1: Map of study area at Stockton University. The data was acquired from Stockton University and processed in ArcMAP
10.x during the Environmental Issues Lab course, Fall 2018
The location was selected in order to study the waste management practices of the Stockton
University freshmen. Three trash and recycling locations were selected. Two bags were examined from
each of the three locations, one of trash and one of recycling. The six bags were then weighed
individually. The bags were further examined and broken down into groups of particular groups of waste
or recycling to see what was really waste, recycling, or compost. Each group of waste and recycling was
weighed, in ounces, individually to be analyzed then applied in percentages by weight. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Individual items found in each location by percentage determined by weight.

Results:

Our findings show that the majority of the recycled bags were in fact recyclable with the
exception of location 2 which had 52.2% by weight of its waste being able to be seperated to trash. The
separation from trash and recycling in the trash samples were mediocre. Location 1 had 64.6% of its
weight was able to be recycled, location 2 had 79.9% and location 3 had 39.6%. See Figure 3. The
findings also showed that freshmen don’t know the procedures to get the items ready to be recycled: for
example recyclable plastic bottles should be emptied of liquid contents prior to disposal.

Figure 3: These pie charts show the percentages of trash and recycle by weight that was in each of the bags collected.
The recycle bags for Locations 1 and 3 were not included due to insignificant findings.
Conclusion & Policy:

The findings from this study show that the trash found in “Housing Two” was composed mainly
of recyclable goods. There are recycling bins available for the students to use which makes this
unexcusable. A proposed policy change for Stockton University would be to include a waste aspect in the
freshman seminar. A lecture explaining proper waste management techniques would prove beneficial to
younger college students. There are behavior characteristics that could be further developed by students
that can aid in making positive contribution to environmental improvement (Izagirre-Olaizola, et al, 2015,
p.33). College students are at a ripe age where their identities are changing daily. If basic environmental
topics were instilled in a freshmen class, the university could see lasting positive environmental impacts
(Loureiro & Kaufmann, 2016, p.234). Although on the governmental level there may be many issues
when implementing new environmental standards, a university does not face as many challenges. A
university can create new policies as they please without the bureaucratic process. For example, Stockton
University could implement something similar as to the University of Cincinnati where they convert
“cooking oil-to-biodiesel, waste paper-to-fuel pellets and food waste-to-biogas” (Tu & McAvoy, 2015,
p.1). Though this may be hard on a smaller campus similar environmental advances are not out of reach.
The Stockton trash truck already runs on natural gas from ACUA so it would be feasible to convert food
waste to biodiesel on campus (D. Wood, personal communication, September 17, 2018).
References

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