Recycling Bins - Brian McNevin

1. Action name

Recycling Bins

1.1. What

Recycling is a fast and easy way for people to lead a more sustainable life. Currently, each inhabitant in Spain generates approximately 2 to 3 pounds, or 0.9 to 1.36 kilograms of waste every single day. Installing recycling bins for not only plastic and aluminum bottles, but also glass and paper is a good way to allow IES Barcelona to lower it's ecological footprint left by the students and staff using such recyclables. The continued part of the action is including glass and paper recycling bins, not just those for plastic and aluminum.

1.2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

  • Resilience
  • Change in Attitudes
  • Reducing dependency on...
  • Ecological/Water footprints
  • Externalization of costs
  • Long term effects
  • Feedback loops (balancing / reinforcing, lagged or not)
  • SLEN vs. TINA
  • Copyleft (CC)...
  • Free Software
  • "Cradle to cradle" design (Waste = Food)
  • Eco-effectiveness (vs. Eco-efficiency)
  • ...

Each semester hundreds of students come to study at IES Abroad Barcelona. A growing concern for the program over the past number of years has been it enormous amount of waste generated by students and staff improperly disposing of it. This causes an environmental dilemma.

Everyday hundreds of students are shuffling throughout the IES Abroad Center, many of them carrying plastic bottles, soda cans, glass bottles, or bundles of paper that they have brought from their apartments or bought at a department store. These items are not finding the proper disposal as there are no recycling bins at the IES Center. As a program, this is extremely wasteful and detrimental to the environment. Inserting recycling receptacles on each floor in the IES Center will help IES become a much more sustainable program as they will be lowering their waste consumed and they will be contributing to the re-production of other valuable products.

A study performed in April, 2002, by Nolan-ITU, a sustainability consulting firm, revealed that 48% of all paper products, 7% of all plastic products, 35% of all glass products, and 19% of aluminum cans were recycled in Spain. The study also states that Spain has a 6% waste to energy ratio. Placing recycling bins in the IES Abroad Center would help that number increase across the board in the long run, while simultaneously decreases IES Abroad Barcelona's ecological footprint. For example, each ton of paper recycled saves 17 trees, 25 barrels of oil, 7,000 gallons of water, and 3 cubic feet of landfill space. Also, if students begin recycling here, it may encourage a change in attitude, allowing for us to become less wasteful in the United States as well.

Spanish law states that food and drink companies must pay the cost of recycling for the glass that their product comes in. This allows for other local businesses to handle the collection, sorting, and re-processing system, displaying the SLEN .vs. TINA model. After collecting the bottles, these businesses melt down the bottles and process them into bottles again, or other household items.

1.2.1. SWOT Analysis


Less waste generated by IES

Lower ecological footprint

Products will be reused

Business for locally owned companies


Additional burden on IES staffto find space for bins, money to purchase them, gave someone empty them

Not necessarily a big incentive



Help Barcelona become more sustainable

Learn how the recycling process works

Use the ecoeuro incentive program


Students and staff may not be willing to participate

May be no one to empty them

IES may not want the bins taking up room in the building

1.2.2. Feedback loops

More recycling bins and advertisements -> More recycling -> Less waste generated by IES -> Less bins needed (This is a reinforcing loop because there is an even number of negative links. If IES places more recycling bins throughout the center, more people will be inclined to recycle, lowering the waste generated by IES, which will lead to less bins needed in the center.)

1.2.3. Potential Benefits

- Help IES generate less waste
- Will lower ecological footprint
- Help local businesses grow and prosper (more business for the local recycling company and processing company allowing for perhaps more jobs and production)
- Encourage students to continue to recycle upon arrival in the United States
- Encourage a healthier lifestyle

1.2.4. Potential Costs

- Initial cost of buying recycling bins
- Time for someone to empty the bins
- Loss of space in the IES Center

1.3. How

Currently, there are recycling boxes for paper, located next to the printers on floors with computers. Brian has spoke with Ferran who has stated that it is too expensive, as well too space consuming to add more recycling bins. Therefore, in accordance with the Sustainability Club, posters have been hung informing students and staff of the nearest recycling bins, as well as the proper ones to use.

Advertisement to be hung in the IES Center:

Bringing bottles, cans, paper, etc. into the IES Center?
Help make IES more environmentally friendly by throwing them in their proper recycling receptacle.
They are located on the corner just to the right. (Brown = Organic, Grey = Non-Organic, Blue = Paper, Yellow = Plastic, Green = Glass)
Please do your part and help save the world!

Image STUDENTS.odt

1.3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" design

As individual bins will not be able to be purchased this semester, posters have been made using recycled from IES that were already used. This displays the "Cradle to Cradle" design of waste = food as the paper which was waste is now becoming an advertisement informing of recycling bin locations, or food.

1.3.2. Questions for the unified survey

"Do you think that most students at IES would use recycling bins? "

In future semesters, the question would be "would you use the recycling bins."

1.3.3. Analysis of the results in the survey

Approximately 4 out of 5 students in the survey said that they would agree to use recycling bins if IES offered them. However, this research group was only a fraction of the amount of students here at IES Abroad Barcelona, but I believe that most other students would answer the same way, as throwing a water bottle or soda can in the proper bin is something that is rather easy to do.

The new question would be answered in the future by others taking the survey.

1.3.4. Incentives

There are several incentives that can be given in order to encourage people to participate in this action, both big and small. For example, one incentive could trying to learn how a recycling system works. Another incentive is the mere fact that you are improve the planet and reducing waste simply by recycling. Another idea is to have an IES-wide contest run by the Sustainability Club for every class, and the winning class receives perhaps a pizza party, or each students receives EcoEuros.

1.3.5. Relationship with the "Sustainability Club" (SC)

Brian has spoken with Solomon, the Sustainability Club president, and has placed advertisements around the building in accordance with the Sustainability Club.

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

The advertisements that are hung notifying students of the recycling bins would be able to remain posted meaning no one would need to maintain them.

1.3.7. Document format

This webpage is available by way of .html format. The advertisement that will be hung throughout IES was made using Microsoft Office's .odt format.

1.3.8. Copyright license of your report

Brian chose to use the Attribution-ShareAlike copyright license because it allows him to be credited for his input on this action, but also allows for others to add others ways of recycling to help make the world more sustainable.

1.4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

Brian McNevin (April 26) - Print and hang advertisements identifying the nearest location of recycling bins. - 30 minutes

1.5. References & Links

Baxter, Fiona, and Peter Schmigel. "Recycling - How Does Australia Compare?." Nolan-ITU Pty Ltd 2002, 04 2010. Web. 22 Apr 2011. .
Murray-White, James. "Recycling Around the World." Recycling Expert. N.p., 17 10 2010. Web. 22 Apr 2011. .
"Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Buy Recycled." U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. N.p., 16 11 2010. Web. 22 Apr 2011. .
"What a Waste!." N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr 2011. . .populationeducation.org>.environment.gov.au>

1.6. Students involved in this action

Brian McNevin performed this action alone.


 Assignment 4: Peer review form

You do not have permission to insert an item

Items found: 18
Grade per actionReviewerComments
91 agluskerI agree with gabby. This is such an easy concept and it is shocking that IES has not yet come up with an easy recycling system. I think that by getting the house families involved and requiring them to be responsible for recycling as well this action can be attained and will be successful! Great idea!
94 carlafInvolving the host families in this project is a great idea. I personally always recycle but due to limiting circumstances around the city (lack of recycling bins), it makes it a lot more difficult. Although students might not be too quick to bring their recyclables to school frequently, it will still be an improvement of the sustainability of IES.
96 CFaheyI think this is a great and easy action that I am surpised is not already taking place. The first few days at IES I walked around the floors a few times looking for a place to recycle various materials and I was only able to find the current bins. This seems feasible and simple and I like your idea to advertise, great job.
93 Drew.perogreat idea! Pure buckets on this one!
93 gnardiThis action is the type of thing that IES could easily implement and that would also make SUCH a big difference in the IES community. When i think about my day in IES, i see SO many people carrying those huge plastic water bottles and I am sure that the majority of the time none of them are being recycled. I also really liked your advertisement. How many recycling bins are you aiming for?
95 jschayeThis is very important for people to do. But what other incentives would students have to recycle besides learning how to do it. I think you should advertise the positive aspects of recycling for the students around IES.
94 Julia NuttI think that this is a very good idea and a crucial contribution to IES Abroad Barcelona. I always feel so weird throwing away my plastic water bottles in the trash cans provided at IES. At my home institution there are recycling bins throughout the entire campus wherever there is a trash can in order to encourage recycling when you can. I also don't see very many recycling bins around Barcelona and I think that you're idea of putting recycling bins out would immediately help this community. I think that this is a very good idea if you have the resources and find the money to be able to implement it.
84 Kmacdonald4I agree that this is a very simple concept for IES to implement. I think the biggest issue is going to be the incentives for students to participate and also informing student about what kinds of products go in which containers. I think by clearly labeling each bin you could avoid this.
87 m.bernsteinThis action is the best way to eliminate waste that is generated by all of IES Barcelona Abroad. You covered much of that in your why section and your feedback loops. The only threat that could make and break your action would be student participation. A really good incentive is needed to get students to bring recyclable items to IES for proper disposal. You could always trying making it into a contest maybe.
90 MarthaMayThis action will be very easily implemented! My only concern is if students will actually bring recyclables to school - might be a little impractical, so I think you should work on developing your incentives to ensure students will participate.
89 MbowermanI think it's great that you included recycling things other then just plastic and glass. It would be cheap and easy for IES to put in these recycling bins and it would send a great message. I feel really bad every time I throw away a plastic bottle in IES and I'm surprised this hasn't already been implemented.
64 obiajuluThis is easy to implement and is very sustainable since the bins promote recycling and also don't need to be constantly monitored.
94 Sarah ColeThis action can be easily implemented at IES. Students are NOT encouraged to recycle here in barcelona like we are in the US. I think taking little steps like putting bins throughout IES will help students become aware and hopefully continue this action in their apartments/homestays.
92 seantubridyGood research about your action! The incentives part is tough, maybe try offering eco euros to people who empty the recycling bins instead of relying on IES staff or cleaning employees to do it. It is necessary for IES to have recycling bins. I cringe a little bit every time I throw a plastic bottle away. Good feedback loops.
95 SolomonBPIt's a good idea and very well written up. Unfortunately, IES Administration shut down adding any more recycling bins. Apparently here, it is just so expensive. Apparently, administration already budgets out 50 Euros per recycling bin they already have now, which is about 2 per floor. Something that would be really helpful though, especially for the SC, would be to make posters with all the recycling information about Barcelona. The SC is planning on putting instructional posters up in all IES housing for future students. In addition to those signs, signs at IES located the 2 plastic recycling bins in the building, would be awesome. You could also help create a bring in your recycling competition, where the winners get prizes sponsored by the SC.
92 steph.eastlakeI think this is a great idea to improve the sustainability for IES. I think just having these extra bins for recycling will encourage students to use the different bin for whatever they are throwing away. I think if this is implemented it will definitely make IES more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
83 vsienkieThis is a very important action and I think it would be great if we had more bins in IES. I also think the advertisement is straight forward and provides good information but also maybe you should send an email out to all of the students letting them know that there are new bins.
92 vydraThis is a very good idea. There is no reason why IES should not have these types of recycling bins as well. I'm not sure how much glass IES students use inside of IES, however they do use a lot of paper (as evidenced by the piles of paper that are wasted sitting next to the printer). This can easily be sustained as IES simply needs to keep them in their building.

 Grades for this action report (From the PROFESSOR)

Items found: 2
1.11 Recycling Bins - Brian McNevin Good The overall report, in general Good election of copyright license information at the "why" section, in general Improvable 1.1. "...is a good way to allow IES Barcelona to lower the carbon footprint left by the students and staff..." Why the carbon footprint and not the general ecological footprint? What has glass, for instance, to do with carbon? 1.2. "A study performed in April, 2002, revealed that ..." Citation and reference to the specific study? "In Spain, federal law ..." We are not a federation in Spain.... Change it for "Spanish law..." or "State law..." 1.2.1 SWOT Wrong layout of the swot table. Improve. O: Use the ecoeuro incentive system. T: any risk that IES Abroad Staff don't like the idea of bins settled around the building floors? Who will empty them? Is the cleaning staff ok with the idea, if they are the ones to empty them?... 1.2.2. Good trial, even if it's a balancing loop, not a reinforcing: at the end there will be less bins needed, since less waste will be produced... Otherwise, explain better. 1.2.3. "- Help local businesses grow and prosper " Which ones? Why? (not clear enough. improve) 1.3. "I will be speaking with IES Director, Cesar," That should have been done already. The sooner to get that answer, the better, to start getting them or looking for alternatives to get or build bins. Why not just building some made of cardboard thrown in some shop in the nearby? (for sure, El Corte Inglés does throw away many kg of cardboard every week, and some may be big enough to serve as bins). As well as plastic, if needed, to cover some bins from inside or outside (for plastic, assuming some beverages and bottles might have some liquid inside still). Try to apply also the "Waste = food" principle since the beginning. "Advertisement to be hung in the IES Center: ..." why not reusing the nice posters produced with lots of effort in previous semesters? "Waste = food" again... Reusing that older advertising material (very good quality), if copyright license allows. 1.3.1. Waste=Food. Keep the previous comments in mind to redo this part if you agree to re-design that part of your action, as suggested above. 1.3.2. "Do you think that most students at IES would use recycling bins? " This question seems not as useful as asking them if they individually would do it. Everyone might believe that everyone else would do it (or not), but there is no guarranty that this belief will come close to reality. You would deduce that information from a big number of individual answers to the survey, about every single person expectations on him/herself (or willingness to participate). But don't base you action on student believes... if they are not proven to follow reality (they don't need to). 1.3.3. the analysis seems to be done on a different question than the one stated in 1.3.2. (Improve) 1.3.4. "Another idea is IES could try and run some sort of a contest to encourage students to recycle. " Why not Improving your action yourself and design that contest here straight ahead?. Also discuss some way in which the ecoeuro incentive system could be used here (with advantages and disadvantages of such specific use that you propose of the ecoeuro system). 1.3.5. Consider some way to benefit each other, from using the SC to promote and/or provide incentives (ecoeuros) for people who participate with your bins. 1.3.6. "This action can be sustained when I am not here by IES staff emptying the recycling bins daily." who will do that? (name and surname of that person of the staff) 1.3.7. "The advertisement that will be hung throughout IES was made using Microsoft's .docx format. " Convert your document to some standard (ISO based) document format, such as .odt. You should be able to save in that format from MS Office from the computers at IES Abroad, or from OpenOffice.org programs, also if you install them in your computer. Otherwise, there are high risks that in the future your formatting/layout/design will be lost, in a similar way to the case if you wished to recover some document with a "Wordperfect for Windows" format (the "de facto" common format used by almost everyone 20 years ago). 1.4. Time-sheet. See notes at the 2011a General comments page about it. 1.5. Provide full details of each reference. See 2011a General comments. And add the references for the similar actions from past semesters. (what could you use from them? what cold you learn from them?) 1.6 and below: remove "information waste" from there, (2 paragraphs just after where you say "Brian McNevin - I performed this action alone.".
Well for some the improvements added to your text. "The advertisements that are hung notifying students of the recycling bins would be able to remain posted meaning no one would need to maintain them.". Well, I couldn't see them the week after, so that I confirm that none of them seem to have survived more than one week... I couldn't see the bins either. Some picture, as I suggested, would have been very appropriate. Why didn't you use the signs produced in previous semesters? They were created with a much visualk and better design... A pity that you didn't take all the potential of the "waste=food" concept. You cited a study "A study performed in April, 2002, by Nolan-ITU, a sustainability consulting firm, revealed that ...", but the full reference couldn't be found at the references section. 2nd

Page last modified on Thursday 28 of April, 2011 22:41:30