Courses / Sustainable Use of Resources - Recycling

Internal notes:


There are always improvements to be made in order to make an establishment more sustainable, and the IES Center is no exception to this. Our group has decided to create a recycling program in which will be able to be carried on in a sustainable manner for future semesters. The next to nothing cost and the simple implementation will allow students in future semesters to carry on this initiative for future years to come. The simple, and yet effective, design of a recycling program will improve the sustainability with the simplicity of organizing waste into different bins. The students are encouraged to participate and have the chance to win a cash prize at the end of the semester through creativity in using the recycling bins.

1. What is the Action

We will be setting up a recycling program in IES by placing recycling bins on the first floor of the IES Center. The recycling bins will correlate with the recycling bins that are placed throughout Barcelona, creating a similar and familiar system within IES for students to utilize. We will be creating a small recycling center with two different bins: Paper and Plastic. In order to assure proper use of the bins, we want to include directions and a list of examples of what would go into each bin. The bins will also not be bought. They will be used cardboard boxes given to us by a local grocery store. We felt that since these cardboard boxes would be thrown away, we might as well recycle them and use them as recycling bins in IES.

We will work with the IES staff and discuss how to promote this action as well. We have first asked for permission to put recycling bins on the first floor of the IES Center. This was approved by Student Affairs. We then went to Academics and asked to have an email sent out to all of the students in IES explaining what we are doing and what they can do in order to participate in the recycling program. This was also approved by IES. The copy of the email sent out to all IES students is copied below.

In order to incentivize IES students, we created an instagram contest. The contest consisted of students taking a picture of themselves participating in the recycling program and uploading it to their Instagram account with the hash tag #IESbarcelonarecycling. The winner would be chosen based on their creativity while participating in the recycling program. As an incentive, the winner would be given 30 euros cash.

1.1. Similar Actions from previous semesters

Actions from previous semesters similar to ours:




There are other projects in which created recycling programs in student apartments in Barcelona, but we felt that this was not very similar to our project because recycling in an apartment is a different process than recycling in the IES Center. It is a lot easier for an individual to recycle in their home than having to go through the process of getting a recycling program approved through the IES Administration and to keep it running for future semesters.

1.2. Why this or a similar action didn't succeed in previous semesters?

This action did not succeed because they did not work with the IES administration in order to keep this project going through future semesters. They put up flyers while they were studying in Barcelona, but they have no way of knowing whether the flyers would still be up or not after they left. We plan on working with the administration in order to ensure that our bins will stay in the building for future semesters and our educational video will stay on the IES website. We plan on having a trial run with our recyclable bins in the IES building in order to show the administration their success before fully implementing the program. We will be working closely with the administration’s office in order to make sure that our program will stay in place when we leave at the end of the semester.

All of these projects have to do with recycling programs within the IES Center. The last link proposes a recycling program only for plastic bottles. We thought that this was something that is important, but it is just as important to recycle both plastic and paper. By adding another bin along side one for plastics, a significant increase in the amount of waste can be recycled compared to only recycling water bottles.

The difference between our project and the other two projects listed is the types of incentives. In the first link, the group relied on IES to fund the supplies for making brownies. Although this is a good idea, IES denied the funding for these brownies, and so the group was unable to have an incentive for students to participate in their recycling program. The second did not have an incentive for students participating in their recycling program. Even though it is important to learn about recycling and how it benefits the planet, it is not necessarily an incentive to encourage students to recycle.

1.3. SWOT Analysis
  • helps protect the environment
  • sustainable use of resources
  • holistic approach for sustainability
  • established recycling programs already in place in different communities
  • encourages student involvement
  • reduces trash levels in normal trash bins at IES
  • Costs close to nothing for IES to administer

  • recycled products don’t last for very long
  • some items produced are not recyclable
  • can take a mass amount of effort to gather items for recycling
  • not everyone knows how to recycle
  • requires participation from students and faculty of IES

  • Recycling can make IES better in the eyes of universities around the world
  • creating educational programs for individuals to learn the benefits of recycling
  • innovation for a new recycling process
  • the ability of students and staff to recycle in their own homes
  • the ability to reduce waste in the IES Center

  • not always cost effective
  • people often only look at short-term recycling
  • myths — people thinking that everything degrades in a landfill
  • fear of change to a recycling community
  • a recycling program will most likely not work if it is not easy for everyone
  • people are lazy
  • people may not put the waste products in the right bins

1.4. Feedback Loops

.....(Provide recycling bins (Balancing Loop)) ......
O I............................................................I S
.....(Recyclable items not being recycled)............
S I.............................................................I O
.....(Educate about recycling (Balancing Loop))....

1.5. Advertising

Our group chose to advertise our project to the IES community in several ways. The first and most obvious way to advertise was to put a descriptive sign right above where the recycling boxes were placed in order to grab the attention of people passing by. Also, we went around to the students sitting in the first floor lounge and discussed the recycling program to them. This gave them an idea of what we are doing if they did not see the sign above the recycling bins or read the email sent out to all of the IES students. We also discussed our project with the IES staff coordinators and were able to have an email sent out to all students describing our action and making them aware of when and how to recycle. The email is copied below in the flyers section. Finally, our group created an Instagram contest for fellow IES students to take a photo of themselves recycling into our boxes and hashtag themselves. We offered a prize incentive and we hope that this contest can jumpstart the recycling movement for our IES Center.

2. Why this action makes things more sustainable? Potential Costs

This action makes things more sustainable in multiple ways. First, by having a recycling system in place at IES, it will help reduce the amount of things just thrown in the trash and taken to a landfill. Most students are at the center for most of the day so there are a lot of opportunities for students to use the recycling bins if they are but in place. This entire action is a simple way that makes recycling an easier process here at IES and allows about 400 students to participate in a sustainable action. We also used card board boxes that were going to being thrown out. Instead of having these cardboard boxes thrown out, we decided to use these boxes as our recycling bins. These cardboard boxes can be reused as the recycling bins until they are damaged to the point where they cannot be used anymore. When this happens, new cardboard boxes will be used and the cycle starts itself over again.

The potential costs of this recycling program is that cardboard boxes do not last very long. Even though plastic recycling bins are not sustainable in the creation of them, they can last a lot longer than cardboard boxes. Because of this, they can be of use to the recycling program for a lot longer, which can eventually make them more sustainable than having to keep replacing cardboard boxes whenever their condition deteriorated.

3. How wil you implement it

After speaking with IES and acquiring their approval, we will try to establish a recycling prototype that would be placed on the first floor of the IES building. This would be located by the vending machines as it is easily accessible by all students and a good assessment of student recycling activity. Students will have access to the recycling bins all throughout the day and the instagram contest will be available all day as well.

3.1. Prototype (or Proof of Concept)

For the recycling aspect, we would try to get two bins via donation to use. We would separate the two bins into paper and plastic. The plastic bin was brown, and the paper was black.
IMG 2783

And this was the flyer above the recycling area.
Screen Shot 2015 04 13 At 9.42.46 PM

3.2. "Cradle to Cradle" Design

Our action promotes cradle-to-cradle sustainability because we re-used cardboard boxes that were going to be thrown away by a restaurant in order to promote recycling within the IES building. After the cardboard boxes deteriorate, new cardboard boxes will be recycled. The process of reusing cardboard boxes will not end since there are always restaurants and grocery stores in which will throw away these cardboard boxes that can be reused. This action will also reduce waste in regular trash bins and provide for a more sustainable environment. By separating the two bins into paper and plastic it will efficiently filter the amount of waste generated by IES students and will be easily transitioned into the Barcelona recycling system.

3.3. Flyers?

We will speak to IES and try to get a mass email sent out to all IES students and faculty making them aware of our plan of action. We will also post notices on the first floor of the building as a constant visual reminder for students to actively recycle.

This is the official email sent out to the Spring 2015 Barcelona IES students:

Hi students,

I’m sending you this email on behalf of some students from Sustainability: Challenges and Responses course. Please, read carefully this message.

Have a nice day!


Dear IES students,

We invite you to participate in our experiment in an attempt to bring permanent recycling bins to IES. We realize that recycling is an important aspect for maintaining a more sustainable environment and would like to promote this idea by creating a prototype. Today (Monday April 13th) we will create a small recycling center on the first floor of IES near the vending machines. There you will find three different bins: paper, plastic, and glass. This is only a one day experiment so we ask that you PLEASE utilize these bins and help support our cause.

We will also be holding an Instagram contest where you can post pictures of recycling in IES using the hashtag #IESbarcelonarecycle. At the end of today we will pick the picture that we feel is the most creative, impactful, and noteworthy and that winner will receive a cash prize of 30 euros!! Note: it must show that you are utilizing the recycling bins. So get creative and start recycling!

Thank you and happy recycling!

-Students from Sustainability: Challenges and Responses course

3.4. Incentives

As an incentive, we included a special insert in the email that mentioned an instagram contest. We asked IES students to post pictures of recycling in IES using the hashtag #IESbarcelonarecycle. At the end of the day we picked the picture that we felt was the most creative, impactful, and noteworthy and that winner received a cash prize of 30 euros! 30 euros is more than enough money for a student to take a picture of themselves recycling and post it on their instagram.

3.5. Relationship with Other initiatives being implemented

Our recycling initiative will work with other actions being implemented by keeping students aware of the importance of creating and keeping a sustainable environment. This initiative works very well with educational recycling programs in which teach students the importance of recycling and how it can benefit individuals and all of society today and in the future.

3.6. How will this action be sustained when you are not here?

We can try to establish an agreement with IES to keep students and faculty informed on the importance of recycling via email and facebook. The email used for promoting this recycling program can be used in future semesters in order to keep this program alive for future semesters. Also, the concept of recycling cardboard boxes can be used for future students to use and help them with being creative and coming up wih new, creative ways of making recycling bins.

3.7. Comparison to similar actions from previous semesters

In previous semesters, there was a recycling program created that was similar to our idea except they had a different incentive in order for students to participate. They planned to receive money from IES to make brownies for the students as an incentive to recyle. The problem with their program was that IES didn't grant them the money, so they had no incentive. For our program, we had an incentive independent from IES which we knew we could supply. We also found reusable bins for recyling on our own instead of asking IES to provide bins for us. In the end, the results were similar to other semesters. This action has to be thoroughly planned through the IES Administration in order for it to continue for future semesters. This is a long term plan in which takes careful planning and actions taken by the administration in order for it to keep running when we leave.

4. Time-sheet/Chronogram

4.1. Who will do what?

The first phase of the project was meeting as a group several times to determine our semester goal and the steps that would be required to accomplish it. We knew from the start that we wanted to help the IES facility in Barcelona to become more sustainability in the long run. Adding recycling bins near the vending machines and printer/copier would be a significant step toward helping the IES facility (which houses 400-500 students plus faculty on a daily basis).

We then divided who would do what: Drew was responsible for finding boxes and ensuring that they would be appropriate for use in IES's facility. He was also responsible for creating different boxes representing the various streams of recycling that the Metropolitan City of Barcelona follows (paper, plastic and glass). Heather and Ashley were responsible for contacting IES about our plan. They emailed the administration of IES and helped promote awareness of the project through the IES community (both via email and Facebook). Tara posted informative signs near the recycling bins explaining what to put in which bin and the importance of separating the recyclable materials into three different bins. She also organized the Instagram contest, which helped promote sustainable awareness amongst IES Barcelona students. Robbie was responsible for organizing the "trial run" on Monday, April 13 where students were told to recycle with the recently installed containers. Robbie also took inventory of the recycled goods at the end of the day to determine how much was actually recycled. Robbie was responsible as well for taking the IES recycled goods and streamlining this with the city's current recycling system. He contacted IES custodial faculty and ensured that the goods were properly sorted into the street-side recycling receptacles at the end of the experimental day. Peter was responsible for central organization; keeping dates and deadlines intact and ensuring that everyone was keeping up with their corresponding tasks. He also helped publicize the presence of recycle bins and helped coordinate the project goals amongst the team members.

4.2. What has been done this semester?

The major accomplishment for this semester was informing IES of the potential that they have to promote recycling at the center. It would not be difficult at all for recycling bins to be installed full-time from the start of the semester at IES. We did an effective job of communicating this issue to IES and the staff members seem to understand that this is an action worth taking at the IES Abroad center. The use of Facebook to promote sustainable recycling was an accomplishment this semester as well.

4.3. What needs to be done to repeat the action in the future?

If the bins were installed from the beginning of the semester, the recycling volume would certainly be significantly greater. Students frequently consume recyclable bottles of water from the first-floor vending machines and seek to dispose unnecessary paper from the folders and backpacks; recycle bins would be an easy solution for both of these issues. If the bins were in-place from the beginning of the semester, the general student body would be in the habit of recycling paper and plastic on a daily basis. Future semesters need to use larger recycling bins from the start of the semester. The communication between IES students and administration regarding the presence of recycle bins needs to continue as it has this semester. Continued promotion of the recycling through the IES Barcelona Facebook group would help as well.

5. Document Format

We used a .html format to create this paper and all of our information is on this web page.

6. Bibliography

Cremin, Tara M., Heather Besler, Peter Levine, Robert Botwinick, Drew Blumenthal, and Ashley Zipperman. "Courses / Sustainable Use of Resources - Recycling." Courses:_:Sustainable Use of Resources. N.p., 13 Apr. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

7. Other References

Above are the links to other similar projects to ours.

8. Annexes

All relevant annexes are included.

For this program we woud do a creative commons license because it would allow for any future group to add on to the action and improve it. This action is something that can be done at any time, and there is always room for improvement.
Creative Commons License

8.2. What did you learn and what did you incorporate from the feedback received?

We learned that you must have a very nice incentive in order to get people to recycle and we realized that this action should be implemented from the start because people already have their own habits. Individuals are used to following a routine, and because we implemented this action towards the end of the semester, it was challenging to encourage many students to change their ways and recycle in the IES Center. If we started this program at the beginning of the semester, students would start gettting use to recycling in the center, and the program would increase in participation towards the end of the semester.

From the feedback we received, we created a bigger incentive through an instagram contest, with a cash reward to get people more motivated to recycle. Individuals are more inclined to do an action if there is an incentive that would benefit them in some way. Because of this, we decided to make the incentive a cash prize because students can always use more money for whatever reasons they may have. We also decided to work with the IES Administration more than we were going to when we first started this project. At first we were just going to ask for permission to put out the recycling bins in the center, but after reading the feedback, we deciced to ask for their help in advertising our recycling program to the IES Students.

8.3. Acknowledgements

Thank you to our Professor Xavier de Pedro for his guidance and support and thank you to IES for allowing us to implement this action as well as advertise it through email.

8.4. Students involved in this action

Tara Cremin, Ashley Zipperman, Heather Besler, Robert Botwinick, Peter Levine, Drew Blumenthal

Feedback from your class mates through the Peer-Review Assignment
Items found: 8
ReviewerThings to keepThings to improve
davidcostlowYou have a good plan and it's good that you have anticipated the possible problems from laziness and items that are not recyclable.Although you have a very good analysis of possible benefits and threats to the success of the program, it is not very clear yet how you could deal with the problems.
elsagomez08I definitely think this is a project that can be carried over into the following semesters. I think it’s a great improvement for the initiative that was started in the previous years. Having a an actual recycling bin present rather than just flyers serving as reminders to recycle will be more impactful and relevant. Also, collaborating with administration will be imperative if you want this project to carry over and be successful in the future. I see a lot of potential for this initiative and believe it can have a significant impact on the recycling within IES. In comparison to the previous attempt, I think this stands out and is more relevant because a flyer can only do so much, and often times students do not even read the flyers on the wall. Whereas a recycling bin next to the trash can will make the student think twice about where he/she is disposing of their trash. The key to success in this project lies in having the actual bins, if you can achieve that, I think this will be very successful. In regards to the double sided printing, I think this is something that can be very easily achieved and should not encounter much resistance from the administration. It would definitely save a lot of paper and be more sustainable. The strengths and opportunities are clearly thought out and hit the nail right on the head. Very well done. In terms on the videos posted on the IES page, I think it’s a good idea, but realistically how often will they be made and how much publicity and traffic will they actually receive? I think it could be very informative, I just don’t know how successful they’ll be. I’d say focus your energy on the physical aspect of this project. I also think that the bins are more than enough to remind the students to recycle; I don’t think the flyers are entirely necessary. In terms of the SWOT analysis, I think you should reword the sentence: "can be unsafe and create unhygienic recycling sites" I get what you’re saying, it just sounds a little off. Maybe say: Students may confuse the bins and put the recyclables int he wrong place. Just a suggestion.
jhazelwoodI think it is very important and a good idea to inform IES students with the general "how-tos" of what to do with their recyclable items-- aka what bin everything goes in/separating trash. I also think that the plan to use incentives to encourage recycling is a good one especially with the possibility of prizes or any opportunity IES could give-- maybe some cool IES trip. However, the possible problem with this initiative is how you would measure the quota of recycling that each class achieved.A major thing to talk about which you pretty much addressed is making sure that everyone knows where to put what-- specifically not in IES. I just remember being very confused when I first got here-- even now sometimes-- as to where I should put glass vs. paper or just random trash. Also I noticed that you plan to create a flyer and was thinking that maybe this can be an online flyer in the form of a pdf! This flyer could be incorporated with other projects like the Welcome Package so as to inform IES students right from the beginning in order to form habits early. Also, I know that you were planning to do a start on the first floor with a recycling bin but perhaps you should start with one on each floor just too make sure people don't get lazy if they are on the third floor and need to recycle something but don't want to go all the way down to the first floor.
KieranHanlonIt is a great idea to keep the recycling bins consistent with the bins found around Barcelona. Also, it is imperative that you work with IES administration to ensure that this action will prevail for years to come.You may want to improve on your incentive for recycling. I like the idea that if a quota is met that the students will be rewarded. Maybe something on the lines of a day off of classes if a certain quota is met. If that was the reward, I would personally go extremely out of my way to recycle.
Nicholas HahmThe original ideas are good both help the environment in some sort of way. And I believe your method of informing people will be effective.Incentive may not be strong enough, I believe most people wont really care about a Catalan treat at the end of the year or they will assume that other people will recycle and they wont have to.
poznerjI think that both the printing and recycling are very good ides. I think that lack of recycling bins, let alone signage, is a big problem not only in the center but in the City itself. You might try and ensure that the cleaning staff are aware of how it works in addition to the students.I can't really think of anything to add. Since there are only two areas I would just make sure that you go into them with sufficient depth.
sblatchfordI think that something that is really positive about this action is the use of double sided printing. I think that this is something that would be relatively easy to change in the computer itself. At my school in the states we have automatic double sided printing which I think is very beneficial. This aspect of the program is very simple for students to understand and would make a huge difference in the amount of paper being used by IES students.The one issue I see with this action is with the recycling aspect. I think that it is pretty easy to set up a recycling program and have bins for students to use but you need to figure out a way to insure that people will actually use them. I know that I personally know a lot about recycling but I still don't recycle all the time. It is hard to get people to actually participate in recycling so I think that there needs to be more of an incentive to recycle or a better way of "forcing" people to recycle.
SimosThis is definitely a good idea, because it is a shame that IES does not have a proper recycling system in place. After all, they sell bottles of water and utilize many pages of paper that should actually be recycled. Therefore, the project makes a lot of sense. It also is a project that can certainly be continued in the future, as recycling bins are a very simple thing. It does not take too much forward thinking to leave recycling bins in a school that so heavily needs them. This is something that IES should have had in place for a while.Primarily, there is no section for feedback loops which are a bit concerning. I do not have much more to say beyond that, besides emphasizing the importance of notifying the students of where each recycling bin is. Furthermore, these incentives should also be advertised near the recycling bins to promote its use.

Page last modified on Thursday 07 of May, 2015 20:58:28