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Cross-disciplinary collaboration to increase recycling

With the aim of setting an example both for multidisciplinary working, and academic and Professional Services partnership, the study represents a collaboration between a range of groups including the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change, UCL Sustainability team, UCL Estates and Bywaters.

Funded by a small grant from the Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities, researchers analysed the effect of introducing a two-bin recycling system, better bin placement and signage, as well as running information campaigns and incentivising the removal of under-desk bins. 

UCL’s large estate and operations provide the ideal environment to test a whole range of interventions. And we know that collaboration with partners beyond the academic community is key for research in this type of real-world setting. By working together, we can create a win-win situation that improves UCL’s operations while providing high quality academic insights

Two papers reporting the study findings have been submitted to environment and sustainability journals, and its next phase will see its results built upon to devise improved recycling interventions. The study’s coordinator, Dr Lou Atkins, explained the motivation behind the project:

“UCL’s large estate and operations provide the ideal environment to test a whole range of interventions. And we know that collaboration with partners beyond the academic community is key for research in this type of real-world setting. By working together, we can create a win-win situation that improves UCL’s operations while providing high quality academic insights”

Unlocking the huge amount of knowledge and expertise within our academic community forms a vital tool to tackle UCL’s own sustainability challenges. In the spirit of this approach, academics from the newly-established UCL Centre for Behaviour Change led a study to evaluate the effect of interventions to increase recycling rates, with UCL buildings as their focus.