Presentation Title

Understanding Students Perspectives of a Plastic-Free Campus

Campus

Daytona Beach

Status

Student

Faculty/Staff Department

Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology

Student Year and Major

Senior, Human Factors & Psychology

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Presentation Description/Abstract

According to recent data from 2018, only 8.7 percent of plastic that was discarded was recycled. This means that the rest of plastic is either littered, placed in a landfill, or incinerated and takes hundreds of years to decompose, potentially causing damaging health effects to the environment. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University generates large amounts of plastic waste that is continuously used on campus on a day-to-day basis. Plastic was observed in the university staff rooms, vending machines, student refuel area, and in the student union, which includes Starbucks, Qdoba, and Chick-Fil-A. Efforts to become a plastic-free campus are underway but little is known how this impacts the ERAU student life day-to-day. This research will present data from surveys and observations on what plastic items are used most often, their purpose, and frequency of use by a representative sample of ERAU students. For each plastic product used, research investigating sustainable alternatives was conducted. Interviews were conducted to provide insight into what students’ perspectives are on a plastic-free campus and what initiatives they have taken to contribute or withhold from this idea. Our results show that most people are in favor of a plastic-free campus and are willing to change their habits in order to reduce the use of single-use plastic items on campus. Suggestions for alternatives on campus along with a cost-benefit analysis will be presented. This research contributes to ERAU by helping protect the environment and possibly lowering the overall annual cost spent on plastic utensils, bags, and cups.

Keywords

Plastic-Free, Plastic-Waste, Plastic, Reusable, Sustainability, Single-use, recycle

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Understanding Students Perspectives of a Plastic-Free Campus

According to recent data from 2018, only 8.7 percent of plastic that was discarded was recycled. This means that the rest of plastic is either littered, placed in a landfill, or incinerated and takes hundreds of years to decompose, potentially causing damaging health effects to the environment. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University generates large amounts of plastic waste that is continuously used on campus on a day-to-day basis. Plastic was observed in the university staff rooms, vending machines, student refuel area, and in the student union, which includes Starbucks, Qdoba, and Chick-Fil-A. Efforts to become a plastic-free campus are underway but little is known how this impacts the ERAU student life day-to-day. This research will present data from surveys and observations on what plastic items are used most often, their purpose, and frequency of use by a representative sample of ERAU students. For each plastic product used, research investigating sustainable alternatives was conducted. Interviews were conducted to provide insight into what students’ perspectives are on a plastic-free campus and what initiatives they have taken to contribute or withhold from this idea. Our results show that most people are in favor of a plastic-free campus and are willing to change their habits in order to reduce the use of single-use plastic items on campus. Suggestions for alternatives on campus along with a cost-benefit analysis will be presented. This research contributes to ERAU by helping protect the environment and possibly lowering the overall annual cost spent on plastic utensils, bags, and cups.