The efficacy of a theory-based, participatory recycling intervention on a college campus

J Environ Health. 2013 Nov;76(4):26-31.


Recycling solid waste is an important primary prevention focus to protect environmental resources and human health. Recycling reduces energy consumption and emissions and the need to harvest raw material, which protects air, water, and land. In the study described in this article, the authors conducted an eight week field study to test the efficacy of an intervention aimed to increase can and bottle recycling on a college campus. Recycling volume was assessed in three campus buildings (two treatments and one control) over eight weeks. The control building had standard outdoor-only recycling. The treatment buildings had standard outdoor recycling plus four weeks with the treatment indoor recycling. Total can and bottle recycling volume increased 65%-250% in the treatment buildings compared to the control building. Recycling significantly increased in both the classroom (t = -2.9, p < .05) and administrative (t = -12.4, p < .001) treatment buildings compared to the control building (t = -.13, p = .91). Results suggest that convenience of receptacles alone, without education or additional promotion, resulted in significantly more recycling. Health promoters should prioritize efforts to make recycling easy and convenient.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Recycling*
  • Universities*