Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Waste Management 33:3 (March 2013), pp. 530–535.

doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2012.08.018


Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission


Commercial institutions have many factors to consider when implementing an effective recycling program. This study examined the effectiveness of three different types of recycling bins on recycling accuracy by determining the percent weight of recyclable material placed in the recycling bins, comparing the percent weight of recyclable material by type of container used, and examining whether a change in signage increased recycling accuracy. Data were collected over 6 weeks totaling 30 days from 3 different recycling bin types at a Midwest university medical center. Five bin locations for each bin type were used. Bags from these bins were collected, sorted into recyclable and nonrecyclable material, and weighed. The percent recyclable material was calculated using these weights. Common contaminates found in the bins were napkins and paper towels, plastic food wrapping, plastic bags, and coffee cups. The results showed a significant difference in percent recyclable material between bin types and bin locations. Bin type 2 was found to have one bin location to be statistically different (p = 0.048), which may have been due to lack of a trash bin next to the recycling bin in that location. Bin type 3 had significantly lower percent recyclable material (p < 0.001), which may have been due to lack of a trash bin next to the recycling bin and increased contamination due to the combination of commingled and paper into one bag. There was no significant change in percent recyclable material in recycling bins post signage change. These results suggest a signage change may not be an effective way, when used alone, to increase recycling compliance and accuracy. This study showed two or three-compartment bins located next to a trash bin may be the best bin type for recycling accuracy.