» Waste Management in Residence Life

This chapter focuses on waste management in Residence Life at Chapman University. In recent years, Chapman University has experienced a culture shift towards becoming a more sustainable campus. However, major improvements in sustainability have been prioritized to main campus over Residence Life. As stakeholders on a planet with finite resources, all members of Chapman University should assume moral responsibility for the products that can be recycled and should question the sale and use of those items that must be sent to a landfill.

Researchers conducted three waste audits in order to create the most effective educational materials to increase the diversion rate of recyclable materials ending up in a landfill to a recycling facility. For more information, refer to Chapter 2 of the 2016 Environmental Audit, written by Brett Galland, Clayton Heard, and Jaclyn Akers

  • Waste Audits
  • Diversion Rates
  • Education Methods
  • The data for this chapter comes from three waste audits carried out on Henley Hall and the Davis Apartments. The ultimate goal of performing waste audits in residence life was to improve the diversion rate and increase the base level of proper waste disposal knowledge among the first year residents. Another major goal was to begin a discussion on recycling and create conscious students who inspire their friends and roommates to care about waste management.

    henley hall waste audit

    Figure 2.1 Raw count of focus items after waste audit of Henley Hall. These items were found most often throughout the audit.


  • The chart below displays data collected after our first waste audit of Henley Hall. On each floor, the diversion rate could have been at least 20% higher than was observed. This demonstrates the dire need for effective educational materials in each of the resident halls on campus. 

    diversion rates by floor

    Figure 2.2. Potential and Actual Diversion Rates by Weight by Floor in Henley Hall. 


  • Analyzing the trash and recycling content in the residence halls allowed the determination of what items are most commonly misplaced, and how to tailor educational efforts to reduce landfill-bound waste, and increase recycling. These items were included in a trial poster (Figure 5), which was hung, emailed and handed out in Henley Hall with the intention to provide residents with recycling knowledge.

    • 1st floor- Posters outlining proper disposal of focus items were placed in the trash rooms above the bins.
    • 2nd floor- Each room was sent the same poster outlining proper disposal of  focus items, as well as an email of the same poster.
    • 3rd and 4th floors- “Control” groups, so they received no educational materials. Students were given one month to adjust to the information so that researchers could compare “before” and “after” recycling and trash disposal practices to determine if the educational materials may have affected disposal practices.

    educational poster

    Figure 5. Custom educational poster posted, emailed and handed out in Henley Hall