PepsiCo funds electronic recycling signs

Emerson received $6,000 after winning a partnership with PepsiCo to create educational signs about recycling around campus in a new, digital format.

Amy Elvidge, sustainability coordinator, and Diana Potter, associate director for grant proposal and research, assembled the proposal for the money together. While more than 60 colleges applied, Emerson is one of 19 recipients.

The signs will educate viewers on recyclable items. Elvidge hopes to place six signs in areas across campus that see heavy student traffic, such as Iwasaki Library, the Max Cafe in Piano Row, and the Paramount Center lobby.

Elvidge said she wants to include students in the process as much as possible. She has not started designing the signs but plans to gather student input in the fall.

“I want this to be an opportunity for Emerson students to apply their marketing and media strategies to educate their peers about waste management. I hope for this to be a collaborative effort,” she said.

Because the sign is digital, the graphics can be changed regularly. Elvidge hopes marketing students will take advantage of the opportunity to experiment with the displays to determine the effectiveness of different messages. 

Elvidge conducted a survey of students, staff, and faculty in 2017 to ask about their recycling habits. She said she wanted to discover the cause of stagnant recycling rates at Emerson. The school switched to single-stream recycling in 2014 and has seen little improvement since.

Single-stream is a system of recycling used by the city of Boston. which puts all recycled materials together. Emerson aims to surpass Boston’s 30 percent recycling rate.

From the survey, Elvidge discovered lack of education caused the low rates. She then entered the PepsiCo competition to acquire more funding for her ideas.

“If students learn how to manage their waste properly, they tend to take that behavior and those learned habits into their future life,” she said.

Kayla Burns, co-president of Earth Emerson, said she feels confident that Elvidge will put the money to good use.

“Putting it into the recycling initiative would be a really great way to use the grant,” Burns said. “I know we need to be doing a lot more in order to improve Emerson’s recycling levels, so using the money for that is something I’m definitely in support of.”

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