Bernhard and Schneider Recycling Research

Recycling study signIn the spring of 2012, alumna researcher Nola Wiersma installed new signs at public recycling stations in the Bernhard Center to measure changes in contamination rates. Research into standardization of signage is ongoing, with the goal of making continuous improvement to recycling behaviors and, ultimately, creating unified signage for campus.

During the same time period Carolyn Noack, Manager of Solid Waste Reduction, conducted a study in Schneider Hall to determine if recycling could be handled by custodial staff without significantly increasing their workload. Recycling and trash containers were removed from classrooms and replaced with centralized pods, and occupants of private offices were left to empty their own landfill trash bins.

Research outcomes:

  • After adjustments to signage in the Bernhard Center, contamination in paper bins dropped by nearly 50%
  • Changes in Schneider Hall resulted in reduced time required for trash handling by custodial staff, allowing for improved cleaning in other areas
  • Removal of bins from Schneider classrooms resulted in cleaner classrooms