The Use of Prompts in Increasing Recycling in Academic University Departments

Austin, J., Hatfield, D. B., Grindle, A. C., & Bailey, J. S. (1993). Increasing recycling in office environments: The effects of specific, informative cues. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 26, 2, 247-253.
In order to increase participation in a university recycling program, a literature review was conducted to uncover effective behavior change tools. Then, prompts were incorporated into a pilot program involving two academic university departments. In the first department, sign prompts were posted in close proximity to the trash can and recycling box. In the second department, prompts were first placed above receptacles, which were four metres apart. Later on, the recycling container and trash can were positioned closely together. The sign prompts consisted of a list of recyclable materials and the message "No Paper Products". The effects of the prompts on recycling were measured by counting the number of items that had been placed in the inappropriate container. These data were then compared to baseline measurements.

In the first department, recycling behavior improved by 54% as compared to the baseline. In the second department, recycling by 17% when the sign prompts were four metres away and by 22% when the receptacles were placed in close proximity to each other.
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