- The purpose of this study was to examine Oregon State University students' self-reported
knowledge, attitudes, and behavior about recycling. Students living in on-campus
and off-campus organized living groups were mailed a four-page survey with
questions about their recycling activities, their attitudes about recycling, their opinions of
the effectiveness of the campus recycling program, and their demographic information.
The study population included all students living in OSU's residence halls, cooperatives,
and fraternity and sorority houses. Three hundred fifteen surveys were mailed, and 237
were returned, for an overall response rate of 75%.
The results showed that:
1) Based on the criteria used to distinguish between recyclers and non-recyclers, 95% of
the sample were recyclers, with women reporting recycling behavior at a higher level
2) There were no significant differences in attitudes about recycling between recyclers
and non-recyclers. Recyclers, however, are more likely than non-recyclers to make
purchases based on their concern for the environment.
3) Most OSU students who recycle spend less than 30 minutes per month recycling, and
it appears to be a well-established pattern in their lives. More than 50% of the
students recycle on a daily or a weekly basis. 4) OSU students recycle all materials except plastics at high rates, ranging from 76% for glass to 87% for paper. Plastics were recycled by 64% of the students who recycle. 5) Students recycle at residences and in classrooms and offices on the OSU campus, and
report the least recycling activity at the Memorial Union. OSU students mainly use
the curbside collection service for off-campus recycling. 6) OSU students receive information about recycling from a wide variety of sources, including school, home, and the media.
One recommendation based on this study is that Campus Recycling provide education about materials re-processing and about the importance of purchasing products with recycled content to close the three-sided recycling loop, as well as to introduce the concept of source reduction. Another recommendation is that organized housing groups name a recycling coordinator who will educate and motivate the residents of the housing group to recycle. Eighty-one percent of the respondents reported television as a source of information about recycling. Additional research is needed to identify the time slots and programs watched by students if this media will be used for future educational interventions about recycling. Finally, because this survey dealt only with recycling of non-hazardous materials, additional research is needed to gather information on disposal of hazardous materials like batteries, automobile fluids, and household paint and cleaners.