Research on Recycling Behaviors

Israel Gabriel Msengi, a doctoral student in the Department of Health (Community and Public Health) School of HPELS within the College of Education at the University of Northern Iowa, is involved in/coordinating a research project titled "Application of Health Promotion Theoretical Approaches to Changing Recycling Behaviors and Assessing Participation Rates Augmented with GIS/GPS among Targeted Populations." This research project is carried out in cooperation with the Des Moines Public Works Department and the Des Moines Metro Waste Authority and is being carried out in Des Moines metro area.

The project will apply two health education/promotion behavior change models, an Intrapersonal and Community-based, implementing educational programs designed to motivate and influence positive lasting recycling behaviors. These programs will teach energy recovery, recycling, and waste management.  The approaches will be compared by examining  participation and set-out rates in the intervention areas.

The project will also involve community leaders whose role will be to advance recycling promotion in their communities. To ensure that the educational interventions are functioning as designed they will address the role of the community supporting behavioral and attitude change towards recycling by education, supplying educational materials, as well as acting as a bridge between the project coordinators and their community. The GIS/GPS will be used to track the weight and location (geographically) of the recycled materials in every collection period in order to assess participation rates. GIS/GPS readings will indicate the volume and frequency of materials recycled by residents. The relative amount of waste recycled by residents will help determine the presence of a behavioral shift.