Xavier Focuses on Recycling Education With Campuswide Messaging Lids

Customer: Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA), a 3000+ student private Catholic HBCU
Location: University campus (academic, residential, office buildings), New Orleans, LA
Waste setup: 2-streams (single-stream recycling, trash); slim-style recycling bins, assorted trash bins
Results: Recycling contamination cut by 2/3rds, improved recycling knowledge & program legitimacy


Problem:
XULA had a recycling program with a very high contamination rate and low confidence that materials were actually being recycled.

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In 2019, Helena Robinson, XULA Director of Sustainability, took over a small and recently established recycling program and planned ways to legitimize and grow it. She first made a change to a better waste hauling partner and expanded material collection to include cardboard. But because of the previous state of the program and the wider narrative surrounding recycling, Helena struggled with the community’s existing perception of recycling.

Confidence was low that materials deposited in recycling bins were not simply dumped into the trash. Even with custom printed signage posted above every recycling bin, contamination rates approached 50%, with styrofoam, coffee cups, and liquids noted as particularly problematic materials.


“There was lots of confusion about what materials should go in recycling, and little faith that the materials that made it in would actually be recycled.”

- Helena Robinson, Director of Sustainability


Solution & results:

Given the university setting, Helena viewed the Dyvert lids first and foremost as educational tools. She was able to secure grant funding to upgrade their existing slim green recycling bins with 60 Vue display case lids by emphasizing the educational nature of the messaging system.

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In fact, XULA refers to the lids as their “teaching tops”. And Helena considers the teaching for everyone: students, custodians, faculty, staff, and visitors.

At recycling stations with Vue lids, contamination has been cut by 2/3rds and is down to 15%.


“Previously, the recycling looked like a mix of all waste materials. Now, the recycling looks like recycling.”


Looking to the future, Helena views education as the key to XULA’s recycling program and can tell that the message is starting to seep in.

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The campus sustainability office routinely tables at outreach events to show community members example materials and the Dyvert lids that they can expect to see on recycling bins. The university has focused their recycling messaging and training on freshmen students who will be part of the XULA community for several more years and can help instill a new sustainability culture to future classes. XULA also plans continued improvements to their printed signage, especially over their trash bins, and will continue moves to co-locate a recycling bin with each trash bin.

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Helena also hopes to acquire 30 Dyvert Reveal lids for use on their 32 gallon round bins at sporting events.

But perhaps the biggest effect of the new recycling collection system is the implicit messaging. Whereas before there was confusion, doubt, and low expectations, there is now a message to the XULA community that recycling is real and valued.


“The Dyvert lids send the message that we DO take recycling seriously.”


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