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146 The Open Waste Management Journal, 2010, 3, 146-154

Open Access
Solid Waste Management in a Mexican University Using a Community-
Based Social Marketing Approach
Carolina Armijo-de Vega*,1, Sara Ojeda-Benítez2, Quetzalli Aguilar-Virgen1 and
Paul A. Taboada-González1

1
Facultad de Ingeniería Ensenada, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Km 103 Carretera Tijuana-Ensenada,
Ensenada, Baja California. México C.P. 22870
2
Instituto de Ingeniería, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Blvd. Benito Juárez y Calle de la Norma S/N, 21280
Mexicali B.C. México

Abstract: Waste separation and recycling programs in higher education institutions requires an approach that reach
people in different ways. Social marketing approach has proved to be effective in helping reach the desired change for
very different initiatives. In this paper is presented a sixteen month experience of a paper and cardboard separation
program at the Ensenada Campus of the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC). Although the support from
the University authorities is important, through different experiences it was found that in UABC the programs that work
better are the ones that do not depend on the work of personnel but on the participation of students and academic staff. To
gain this participation the strategies used in social marketing were used. To date through UABC´s paper and cardboard
program the institution has diverted more than six tons of this type of waste from the main waste stream. Based on the
evaluation of the program and on the increasing community response, it can be said that the social marketing strategies
used in this program were successful.
Keywords: Social marketing, solid waste, recycling.

INTRODUCTION available for its management and the lack of responsibility
from waste generators worsen the problem. This implies that
In the XXI century higher education institutions have to problems generated as a consequence of the improper
face a series of challenges such as the promotion and
management of municipal solid waste (MSW) are complex
implementation of sustainable practices through the
because waste is generated in diverse sectors such as
participation of faculty, students and staff, which should be
commercial (stores), education (schools), health (hospitals),
compromised in building a better future for the generations
recreation (parks), and touristic (hotels), among others.
to come. Diverse research have shown that the role that
These establishments are heterogeneously distributed in the
universities and their faculty play when promoting cities and have different performance contexts as well. This
sustainable practices is key and influences the success of
diversity of waste generators makes very difficult to
other sustainability programs in society [1-5]. In addition,
implement effective and efficient waste management
several universities worldwide have incorporated the
initiatives. To face this complexity in the management of
sustainability approach to their courses and academic
MSW some countries have put into practice sector-tailored
programs to form professionals sensible to environmental
solid waste strategies. In this way, waste generators of the
protection [1, 6-8]. Education and formation of new same section or sector, for example the hotel section, get
professionals must include the sustainable approach as to
organized and create common plans for waste management
acquire the necessary skills to face diverse environmental
that includes common practices for the segregation by waste
problems. In this sense, universities should put into practice
type, for temporal storage, transport and treatment. Through
strategies for sustainable development which must be
this organization the responsibility of waste management is
immersed in their academic programs, research, outreach,
shared among the same section generators.
and facilities operation. One of the many environmental
problems that must be addressed is the one related to the To achieve sectional waste management plans first is
increasing amounts of solid waste. necessary to know the characteristics of waste that each
section generates and the approximate amounts. Also it is
Internationally, municipalities are challenged every day
necessary to implement waste management pilot programs to
with the complexity of solid waste management; the
detect and correct possible failures and to add new practices
increasing generation of waste, the limited resources that could improve the program in each section. In this sense,
recent research carried out in different parts of the world
*Address correspondence to this author at the Facultad de Ingeniería
show that colleges and universities are not aside from the
Ensenada, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Km 103 Carretera problems related with waste generation. For this reason some
Tijuana-Ensenada, Ensenada, Baja California, C.P. 22870, México; Tel/Fax: institutions have involved in waste management programs
52(646) 174-4333; E-mail: carmijo@uabc.edu.mx with the objective to recover the recyclable materials [9-11],

1876-4002/10 2010 Bentham Open

SOCIAL MARKETING APPROACH Education Institutions Households Type of Waste (Percentage of (Percentage of Advocacy messages commonly face the challenge of Total Waste) Total Waste) trying to change behavior by forcing consumers to confront some disconcerting reasons for the need to abandon the Paper and cardboard 20-50 % I 11-20% II status quo. Table 1 shows the differences in composition by weight of these two generation sources. initiatives have taken place since 19981 but these have been Social marketing arose as a discipline in the 1970s. alternative approach to the typical information channels for Different experiences have shown that the logistics and recycling programs such as: flyers. different approach was used to promote and impel a new some educational institutions have also engaged in the initiative to separate and recycle paper and cardboard at the promotion of a new conception of man and nature through a Campus Ensenada of UABC. the primary focus is initiatives had the objective to make clear how to use the on the consumer-on learning what people want and need different recycling bins. those recycling programs in promote environmentally friendly practices such as recycling UABC did not bring effective results. Information was the be producing. conferences. all the campuses of UABC and later to other colleges and universities of Baja California. One common characteristic of previous Social marketing approach has been found to significantly recycling initiatives was that all were announced and contribute to the attainment of specific program objectives promoted by people in top-management positions of the and goals. upon research in the social sciences that demonstrates that Thus. 17]. In the Autonomous removing barriers to an activity while simultaneously University of Baja California (UABC) diverse recycling enhancing the activities benefits. Waste Composition in Education Institution and could set ground for a school sector oriented waste Households management strategy. It is a unique approach because it offers a properly separated. the tools can often be particularly effective when 1 Arroyo. technology alone are not enough for a recycling program to stickers. The study reported here has the change in attitudes. Volume 3 147 in the implementation of zero waste programs in university In view of the results of the previous recycling efforts. Solid Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman [28] realized that the same waste characterization studies have also taken place at marketing principles that were being used to sell products to UABC in order to propose an integrated solid waste consumers could be used to “sell” ideas. Finally these experiences Table 1. Community base social marketing is based be successful because the human factor plays a key role. financial dependence for the logistics and publicity of the programs. flyers. an important component of any recycling program is behavior change in most effectively achieved through the communication and information campaign that seeks to initiatives delivered at the community level. 2010. which focus on reach the people intended to participate. bins were not used the way they were framework for the people in need to promote behavioral supposed to. radio and TV spots and been effectively used in many recycling programs [29-33].Waste Management and Social Marketing The Open Waste Management Journal. Implementing it. V. TV spots. This program was planned and undertaken through a social It is also important to mention that in education marketing strategy [23. separation recycling programs? Social marketing offers an this is also valid for the school section. culture and consciousness. One last element shared in previous programs was their that this approach in fact. Although each of these tools on its own is capable of promoting sustainable behavior. people were not keen to participate in the changes in diverse establishments. Information campaigns for these behaviors. Based on the experiences of the institutions waste composition is different from household initiative reported here. and finally. According to I II Source: Built with various sources [14-18]. the program is expected to expand to waste. 16.. Ads or other message forms appealing for Organics 20-48% III 22-55% III increased recycling are no exception [25]. Hopper and Nielsen [26] recycling is an altruistic behavior. and De Young [27] mentions that efforts to promote waste reduction and recycling behavior should focus on non- Observing these differences it is imperative to know the monetary motives. it was very difficult to sell the marketing also uses tools that have been identified as being recyclables because of these problems. The application of marketing principles and same for all audiences in the organization and was delivered techniques to promote a social cause. however. where these new bins were located rather than trying to persuade them to buy what we happen to and how separation should be made. etc. Despite the effort made in the information Social marketing has emerged as an alternative to campaigns and in the logistics. Waste was not [31. particularly effective in fostering change. [19-22]. Like commercial marketing. 24]. idea or behavior has through an internet site. 35]. in this sense a objective to implement and evaluate the performance of a research was carried out to know the attitudes and behavior paper and cardboard segregation program in one of the towards recycling in a university campus [10]. a campus [12]. posters. involves a decision by university. attitudes and management program. Community-based social programs. III [9. campuses of the Autonomous University of Baja California. Moreover. 2006. Other common thing among these programs was management to undertake a focused and purposive activity that they all depended on the participation of maintenance requiring the kind of support that is anchored on the belief staff. when focused on the logistics of recyclables separation. personal communication. The question then is how to appeal to quantities and characteristics of waste generated in each non-monetary motives to make people participate in waste section before proposing sectional waste management plans. and on recovering of paper [13]. . 34. can make a difference [32].

for example. which is the through. administrative staff. The steps followed to implement the mentioned • Incentives: Are used to reward people for taking program were the ones proposed by McKenzie-Mohr and Smith [23]. threatening messages.148 The Open Waste Management Journal. Volume 3 Armijo-de Vega et al. reusing and recycling waste. July is not considered because is • Norms: Develop community norms that a particular the summer vacation and no waste is generated during that behavior is the right thing to do. This barriers that are quite specific to the activity being promoted. To promote activities A second question that had to be answered in this stage that support sustainability. It is not unusual to uncover multiple towards reducing. The first step to implement the program starts with two questions. and. Community-based social marketing this question it was made a review of the results of a therefore begin by conducting the research that will help to previously applied questionnaire aimed to detect the attitudes identify these barriers. used together. barriers to these activities must was. time. the next step is to questionnaire was applied to a sample group of the university community that included students. more sustainable communities. and the e-mail and phone number In order to know the degree of success of the strategies of the people in charge. who should the program address or target? To answer first be identified. Incentives can be powerful levers to motivate behavior. what is the potential of an action to bring about the four stages are [23]: desired change? To answer this. 2010. Social marketing is based in social sciences research and • Communication: Programs that intend to foster particularly in psychology that has identified a variety of sustainable behavior should include a communication effective tools to promote behavior change. develop a program that addresses each of them. contact. among other. credible sources. When barriers are been found to be far more likely to agree to a larger identified and appropriate programs are designed to address request.g. unnecessary idling. use of massages easy to METHOD remember. it should sustainability are susceptible to forgetting. avoiding the use of several points afterward. These tools are component. The significant influence upon the adoption and evaluation of the program was made during 16 months from maintenance of behavior. These question. In this program were used short e-mail more effective when used combined. Key community-based social marketing tools Developing and Piloting a Program to Overcome these include: Barrier • Prompts: Numerous behaviors that support To ensure that the program will be successful. a detailed analysis was Identifying Barriers to a Particular Behavior made about the desired change. punctual instructions on how to separate. such as returning beverage containers. these are the following: positive actions. 2009. Once the barriers have been identified. Prompts be piloted in a small segment of the community and refined can be very effective in reminding to perform certain until it is effective. Identifying Barriers to a Particular Behavior To detect the barriers to separate cardboard and used paper three steps were followed: . Implementing the Program Across A Community • Commitment: According to McKenzie-Mohr & Smith [23] in a wide variety of settings people who have The steps that make up community-based social initially agreed to a small request. a vehicle window sticker indicating to continually monitor its effectiveness. and procedures are put in place activities (e. rather than fining them for engaging in Identifying Target Behavior negative actions. has its own group of barriers [36-43]. January 2008 to May. The first question that was addressed in this step Social marketing starts with the selection of a “target was what behavior should be promoted? To decide which behavior” and later uses a four stage process to encourage behavior to promote at UABC it was necessary to answer the the desired change towards a sustainable behavior. These authors recommend having people these barriers. The program is then implemented activities remind people to engage in sustainable throughout the community. The paper and cardboard recycling pilot program • Removing external barriers: The behavior change reported here took place at the Campus Ensenada of the strategies used in social marketing can have a Autonomous University of Baja California. have subsequently marketing are simple but effective. This analysis was made based on the previous waste management experiences at Research indicates that each form of sustainable behavior UABC and on the present day institutional context. the frequent result is that individuals and commit or pledge to engage in sustainable activities organizations adopt more sustainable activities. The tools used in this messages with relevant information about the research were the following: progress of the recycling program such as quantities Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Program of cardboard an paper separated. Special attention was paid to for change it is necessary to evaluate the implementation of the recommendations of McKenzie-Mohr & Smith the program by obtaining information on baseline [23] in relation to the usage of captivating involvement in the activity prior the implementation and at information. signing a pledge card to avoid cornerstone of healthier. Mexico.. that the driver does not idle). the removal of barriers and the use of proven tools of change are emphasized in the program. Personal faculty and custodians.

paper and cardboard program at UABC 2. Identifying Target Behavior 3. 3 to a neutral position paper and cardboard. and then it was expanded to all the faculties The information found in literature agreed with the of the campus. Twenty persons were and 5 to a total agreement position. five students. so is more difficult to follow their recycling behavior. Commitment: For this program. and short The results are presented in the same order as the steps written explanations about the characteristics of waste presented in the methodology section. I know the location of the paper bins 1. The waste that I generate is my responsibility about the implications of their behavior. findings of this study as far as the barriers to make the . This was decided because the former generate more paper and Design and Evaluation cardboard in the campus and are the groups that can be Once the barriers were identified and prioritized. Location of recycling bins in convenient type residues that had to be deposited in recycling containers places near the paper generation points. Paper separation program at UABC promotes a waste management and the disposition to participate culture of environmental responsibility in a paper and cardboard separation program. actively involving a person. It was 4. 2. I am willing to actively participate in the paper and also asked how they would prefer to receive cardboard separation program of UABC information about a waste management program. Thus the target behavior identified service. stickers. five to 40 people in three different times: three. pilot program was launched in two faculties. This was decided since in previous (identifying barriers to a particular behavior) two experiences of recycling in UABC one of the main problems main strategies were used: was that although the generators of residues knew well the a. The questions interview was to recognize why they were handling included in the survey were the following: their waste that way and if they had any knowledge 1. Communication: Diverse communication strategies were used such as conferences. where 1 working or studying at UABC generate and disposes corresponded to total disagreement. Survey: A survey was constructed. Is easy and convenient to separate paper Use of Tools for Behavior Change 6. 5. e-mail All previous waste programs at UABC presented an reminders and information messages. By adequate we refer to the separation of materials that do not 4. Incentives: Even though incentives have shown to include contaminants or other types of waste but the ones have an important impact in a variety of programs to indicated by the program. flyers. 14. The first two inadequate separation of waste. While students remain less change tools that matched the barriers were selected. validated and properly applied to 30 people randomly chosen. I am informed about the progress and changes of the group. The objective of the survey was to identify the attitudes towards 3. UABC is an institution that manage its solid waste 3. in this program incentives were not used because the program lacked financial support. 12 and 16 months custodians and five professors). Observation and interviews: Qualitative information information campaign a survey was made which included was obtained through observation of the way people seven questions with five Likert scale values each. The collection go was academic and administrative personnel. Volume 3 149 1. public. A second target behavior was the “correct disposition of paper and cardboard in the containers destined to deposit 5. management programs were implemented To evaluate the efficiency of the communication and 2. b. the monitored for longer periods. some failures were corrected. 7. time in the university facilities and leave after three or four Feedback from the participants was obtained and latter the years. This survey was applied interviewed (five secretaries. recycling. the disposal was incorrectly performed. to be recycled. diverse types of commitment were sought: written. The pilot Identifying Barriers to a Particular Behavior program was functioning during 16 months. Based on the barriers detected in the previous stage those materials”. the latter through the University mass e-mail universities [9. Literature review: Academic books and articles were To evaluate the general progress of the separation of reviewed in order to detect to most typical barriers paper and cardboard. The objective of the after the implementation of the program. was “an adequate diversion of paper and cardboard”. the monthly quantities of these encountered in other places when new waste materials were recorded. this problem was also were delivered through the work of social service identified by other waste management coordinators of other students. signs near the recycling bins. Twice a week collection of the materials The objective population to which the campaign would separated in the recycle bins. Different prompts were used such as signs in the RESULTS offices. participation of students occurred indirectly. 2010. verbal. 44].Waste Management and Social Marketing The Open Waste Management Journal. the was made by social service students.

Each time the primary deposits . recycling bins Tables 2 and 3 show the perceived benefits and barriers more frequently mentioned during the interviews. 2). people was helped was carried out by social service students. Students picked. To achieve these goals two different types of temporal disposal sites were placed to separate paper and cardboard: 1) primary sites and 2) secondary sites. This was only made in the In this study the following tools were used: cases in which the box for paper did not represent a problem • Verbal commitment was emphasized in offices. a small box was placed as Use of Tools for Behavior Change well in his or her office (Fig. Perceived Benefits and Barriers and Competing Behaviors (for Target Behavior 1) Target Behavior Competing Behavior 1 Correct Separation Easy to Dispose All of Materials the Materials Mixed Perceived No need to differentiate Helps the environment Benefits types of waste Bad for the Environment Perceived Lack of time to Barriers separate waste types Costly disposition of waste in landfill Table 3. Volume 3 Armijo-de Vega et al. Secondary disposal sites in corridors. wanted and space was available. coercion was never used. (1). up the materials and deposit them in the primary disposal This was made in 26 administrative offices. in the discussion section are mentioned were full. perceived benefits and barriers as well as the behaviors that compete with the target behavior detected during the observations and interviews. Primary disposal sites for paper and cardboard. 2010. The secondary deposit sites were located near the paper and cardboard generation sites. desired change.150 The Open Waste Management Journal. group of space in the office. Table 2. 1) for the deposition of material and for the collection. (2). If the professors Fig. 3). and staff would be overcome. people was actively The collection of paper in the secondary disposal sites involved. so that they did not have to move to deposit any material. For example for a group of cubicles a median size box was located in the corridor (Fig. The former were Gaylord boxes (47" x 36" x 50") which were intended for the temporarily store of considerable quantities of paper and cardboard. mainly inside offices or in corridors. to see themselves as environmentally responsible. Table 2 shows a simple matrix that presents the materials. These results made evident that the strategies should be oriented to facilitate the process for material separation and disposition. a recycling company was called to collect the these. These boxes were located in sites protected from rain and wind but at the same time that were accessible (Fig. Perceived Benefits and Barriers and Competing Behaviors (for Target Behavior 2) Competing Competing Target Behavior Behavior 1 Behavior 2 Correct Deposition Everything is Throwing of Materials in Disposed in the the Waste Recycling Bins Same Bin from its Place Helps the environment Perceived No need to move to Good image Saves time Benefits the recycling bin Exemplary behavior Lack of recycling bins Perceived Bad for the Lack of space for Bad image Barriers environment Fig. This way the perceived barriers mentioned by faculty four faculties of the campus and in the two institutes. in the sites. commitment was pursued.

cardboard program was the monthly amount (kg) of . principally in relation to the the willingness to participate in the program (question 4). The effect of this campaign lasted until • The elimination of barriers consisted on the convenient location of the primary and secondary May and decreased in June. Finally the survey showed that the people is informed Evaluation about the progress of the paper and cardboard program (question 7). In general (Fig. A positive trend was shown in the perception that UABC manage its solid waste properly (question 2). and paid to the awareness campaingn in order to improve the signs replaced. This difference shows an average increase of 87% the amount of the first year. The information present the lowest amounts of materials because the program delivered was focused on the quantities of materials then was present only in two faculties. this indicates that people is realizing that this activity does not take much time and can be easily done. This way any most of the indicators.008 kg of sites. The first two months delivered to the whole campus. although a decrease of one unit is present for the last evaluation (greeen line).Waste Management and Social Marketing The Open Waste Management Journal. The survey to evaluate the efficiency of the communication and information campaign of the program showed progress. well. separated and the location of the temporal disposal The total amount for the 16 month period is 6. The perception that UABC promotes a culture of environmental responsibility (question 3) was at its higher value since the second time the survey was applied. 5) shows a positive trend in the number of complaints received. The knowledge of the location of the recycling bins (question 6) is a good indicator that the signs and promps are working Fig. Secondary disposal sites in cubicles. Also in April one of the campus faculties made an because of the community participation and aggressive campaign involving a group of students inviting commitment. The month of July reports no results because is the summer vacation period and no activity disposal sites and in the collection made by students. this means that a positive change in the perception of the program took place. this Fig. takes place at campus. • The communication system was through e-mail. The perception that is easy and convenient to separate paper (question 5) also improved. (5) can be observed that the seven indicators improved with time. the next correctly separate cardboard and paper and students five months (January to May. Volume 3 151 • Visual prompts were used in corridors. (3). 2008) had a monthly average of 295 kg. (Fig. 2009) had an average of 552 would collect the materials from the generation site. When the survey was applied for the first time (blue line) the values were low. but special care must be paid here because the Every two weeks social service students reported the survey was applied just one day after the last information e- conditions of use of primary and secondary disposal sites and mail was sent. primary materials separated. During the first diverted from the main waste stream. the university community to clean their offices and get rid of old notes and exams. The first year (from January to This way the participants would only have to December. For doing this the quantities of the disposal sites and via e-mail. The prompts were materials diverted were recorded. 2010. In general it can be mentioned that the perception of participants in relation to their reponsability as waste generators changed positively (question 1). 4) shows the monthly mainly used to remind the types of material to be quantities (kg) of paper and cardboard in a 16 month period. the data of both materials are reported together. perception of waste generators as responsible participants of A hard indicator of the progress of the paper and the waste problem. In Fig. kg. (4) shows the quantities of paper and cardboard have media was chosen because it can be massively fluctuated during the evaluated period. Because the separation and collection of paper and cardboard were made in a single container. a short semester the highest amount was reach in April that explanation of the program and a thank you note to let coincided with the expansion of the program to all the the people know that the success of the program was campus. nevertheless more attention must be inconvenience or misuse of boxes could be corrected. It is to be noted that the reported quantities were informed by the recycling company since we did not have the equipment to weigh the materials before they were collected by the company. paper and cardboard.

participation is further promoted more. Although. the probability of individual finish their social service program and a new term starts. At action. (5). In this sense. offers a good and students are participating. information. Community based social marketing (CBSM) mandatory. action should increase because the effort required on the part This could help to explain the reduction in paper and . waste reduction objectives. At recycling behavior is through information and dissemination UABC the paper and cardboard recycling program is not techniques [13]. Quantities (kg) of paper and cardboard generated in a 16 month period. Thus also special could create a new community norm favoring recycling. 2010. recycling. Nevertheless more attention should education may not easily overcome contextual barriers to be paid to the time gaps where no students are present. of any single individual decreases. Volume 3 Armijo-de Vega et al. Shackleton and Whittington-Jones [13] also discuss the importance of removing the distance barriers by increasing the number of recycling bins which leads to a potential increase in Fig. this is the reason why not all the staff. Fig. a systematic. well-advertised program ethical and resposible waste management. periodic prompts. This is also in accordance with Derksen & Gartrell [46] in that the most important determinant of recycling behavior is access to a structured program that makes recycling easy and convenient. This finding agrees with Taylor & Todd [45] who found that a similar concept self-efficacy (the perceived ability to carry out the behavior). recycling would require relatively little effort. In the case reported here the context change was the convenient location of recycling bins and the materials collection made by students. Individual program of UABC this continuous approach has taken place concern for the environment and individual resources such as and will continue to be. leads to perceived behavioral control and from there to a positive intention to recycle. Amutenya. In attention shoud be focused on the strategies used to involve accordance to this one way of encouraging a long-term and influence more people to participate in the program. However. In the case of the paper and cardboard recycling widespread adoption of recycling activities. Thøgersen [47] supports the above demonstrating the usefulness of social marketing approach for the DISCUSSION promotion of recycling through the design of reverse Recycling programs contributes to institutional solid distribution channels for recyclables. faculty applied to a social cause such as recycling. if the context is changed to facilitate the present no strategy is in place for the weeks when student adoption of new behavior. (4). the authors are approach for dissemination and the delivering of positive that more people will get involved in the program if information. Under these circumstances. leading community by practicing Furthermore. and as a consequence. and follow-up surveys should be an ongoing part of the Some social contexts may actively discourage the program. social marketing strategies continue to be used. Results of the survey in three different times.152 The Open Waste Management Journal.

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