Date of Award

Spring 2016

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Science


Barry Allen

Committee Member

Lee Lines

Committee Member

Dan Chong


This study analyzes the overall state of the recycling program at a private, liberal arts college in the southeastern United States. By conducting a waste audit of four campus buildings, a campus-wide web survey, and two in-depth interviews, the study revealed a 62% contamination rate within the recycling stream and a paralyzing operational obstacle that rendered the college’s real diversion rate close to 0% of the waste stream. This defends the stance that “diversion” does not equate to “recycling.” The study also exposed a disconnect between the lack of campus faith in the ability of the recycling program to capture recyclable materials, and the overall idea of recycling as a solution to the current solid waste problem. Whereas the predominant literature regarding recycling on college campuses generally focuses on increasing recycling rates, these findings suggest that studies should first analyze the contents of the recycling stream to ensure that rates measured account for uncontaminated recyclables. Studies should also investigate what happens to recyclable materials after they are collected and processed to ensure that materials are in fact being “recycled.” Finally, this study suggests that the college, with only some fault of its own, has failed to properly execute a functioning recycling program, and has therefore done a disservice to the college’s mission statement of being “dedicated to…environmental stewardship” (Rollins College, 2016b).

Rights Holder

Courtney W. Banker