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Executive Summary

EcoReps' new 3D bins displays with physical items instructing people how to sort their trash, recycling, and compost – in the Husky Union Building (HUB)’s food court, the Husky Den. These 3D bins should help UW divert waste from landfills, educate and engage the student body about the waste disposal process and it’s impacts, and ease the burden of maintaining the previous bin displays.  

The Husky Den has ten three-bin (compost, recycling, and trash/landfill) waste disposal stations, each of which has had 3D bin displays for the past few years. The 3D displays have been far more effective than any other form of signage currently used by the UW. A recent study by students in ENVIR 250 found that UW’s 3D displays (referred to in the study as “signs with physical items”) had the highest rate of sorting accuracy of the signage studied. Waste was disposed with 81% accuracy at bins with 3D displays, compared to just 61% accuracy for posters and 68% for videos (Chiado et al.). These bins have been the UW’s most effective education tools despite their DIY construction and informal maintenance crew.  Created by UW staff and students on their own time by sawing plastic bins in half, hot-gluing relevant compost, recycling, and trash materials onto the half-bin, and covering the open front with sheets of polylactic acid, the bins need frequent maintenance. For many years, the bins had to be maintained by a single member of the UW Sustainability Office, who cleaned and repaired the bins once a month without pay. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the bins’ open-top design has occasionally led students to use the displays as basketball hoops for food items and condiment packages. EcoReps has since taken over the cleaning of the bins, but maintaining the bins continues to require more work than is ideal. 

Over winter break of the 2018-2019 school year, HUB custodians took bins down for cleaning and they were thrown away by accident. Because HUB management and Housing and Food Services will not replace the bins, EcoReps would like to take this opportunity to 1) improve the displays by creating more effective and more easily maintained signage and 2) engage the broader UW community in a conversation about the waste disposal process. 

Primary Contact:
Julie Tolmie