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Cafeteria Waste Campaign Case Study

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Health care retail cafeterias face the same issues as other public-facing retail food establishments, contamination and misplaced recyclables in the recycling and compost bins, and recyclable and compostable material being placed in the garbage can rather than sorted into the proper bins.

The Cafeteria Waste Campaign was designed to make recycling and composting easier for cafeteria users through new recycling and waste bin stickers, and campaign posters and banners that were fun, eye-catching, and informative.

The campaign was installed in four health care cafeterias: BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital, BC Cancer Vancouver, Lions Gate Hospital, and UBC Hospital. The campaign began in October/November 2019 and was designed to run for six months until the end of March 2020. Covid-19 had a major impact on this project, with cafeterias temporarily closing down or greatly reducing services beginning in March 2020. This affected the post-project results and ability to measure the original objectives since the March waste audit was cancelled. In response, the campaign was extended until October 2020 after the completion of the September 2020 waste audit. Additionally, post-project contamination data was no longer a viable metric with the change in services, so a greater reliance on anecdotal evidence was used.

Overall highlights include:

  • The humourous, eye-catching campaign assets do attract attention from cafeteria users, and guests will stop briefly at the recycling stations to determine into which stream to place their recyclables
  • Users still do not always make the correct choice, for various reasons
  • The acrylic display boxes allow for some amount of customization for each site’s cafeteria items