City of Vancouver – Put Waste in its Place: The Zero Waste Station Challenge D






Project Summary


This project is builds off of a long-term collaboration between CityStudio, the City of Vancouver and a course in the Sauder School of Business and was awarded first place the CityStudio Hubbub Project Showcase event at City Hall on April 1st, 2016.

  • An ongoing project with a focus on increasing waste diversion rates at community centres
, with an emphasis on food waste.

Areas of Focus

  • Behavioural economics
  • Waste diversion
  • Food waste
  • Municipal sustainability policy


  • Market-based observation and analysis of individual and consumer behaviour


  • Location TBC. We have worked with Creekside, Roundhouse and Killarney Community Centres in the past, the staff at Kitsilano Community Centre also expressed interest in trying out the new decals. We can work with student groups and community needs to determine pilot locations.

Special Considerations

  • You don’t have to get your hands dirty (if you don’t want to). You’ll engage in a meaningful way with a major challenge for sustainability.
  • Student projects have the opportunity to be showcased at CityStudio’s Hubbub event on Friday, April 7th, 9-noon at City Hall and students will have the chance to pitch their project to the Mayor and City Staff as well as connect with like minded students and faculty from schools around Vancouver.

Organization Information


CityStudio & City of Vancouver

Mission + Vision

Cities need to experiment on the ground with innovative solutions to the complex sustainability challenges that they are facing. Cities also need strategies to engage young people as both leaders and decision makers. Our aim at CityStudio is to work directly with the underserved, disillusioned and talented students who want to change the world and cannot find programs that help them do so.

CityStudio helps City Hall find ways to include student passion and ideas in the co-creation of the city. We imagine a future where City Hall is more permeable and accessible and an energetic hub of urban innovation. The Greenest City Action Plan is a strategy for staying on the leading edge of urban sustainability.

We are working with Council, residents, businesses, other organizations, and all levels of government to implement this plan.

Our vision is to create opportunities today, while building:

  • A strong local economy
  • Vibrant and inclusive neighbourhoods
  • Internationally recognized city that meets the needs of generations to come

Through a set of measurable and attainable targets, we are putting Vancouver on the path to becoming the greenest city in the world.

Primary Contact

  • Contact Person(s): Jeanie Morton & Paul Gagnon
  • Email:,
  • Address: 1800 Spyglass Place, Vancouver BC
  • Phone: 604-874-6401
  • Website:
  • Best time(s) method(s) to contact: Email

Project Description

  • This is an ongoing project with a focus on increasing waste diversion rates at community centres

  • Students research each semester builds on the recommendations of previous cohorts

  • The research that was conducted when the partnership started in 2013, centered on students conducting behavioural observations at community centres and interviews with users

  • Based on the student's research, modifications were made to the communication elements used to message to the public to sort their waste properly.

  • Research moved from print messaging to video presentations...four videos were developed that the City can use once the video equipment is set up at each facility.

  • The most recent research focused on messaging to children, elementary school age, to sort their waste properly.
  • This research was awarded first place the CityStudio Hubbub Project Showcase event at City Hall on April 1st.

  • Last semester LFS 350 students worked to assess the effect of new waste station decals on diversion rates. These decals were placed on the front of the zero waste station. Their findings suggest more research is needed, and that decals on top of the bins are needed if the city removes the top placards (the current placard systems is challenging due to cost of replacing and maintaining placards)
  • This semester we’d like students to observe current use and establish and baseline at their community centre, then prototype three possible designs of lid decals for the common recycling streams, work with city staff to select one design and test the design along with the newly developed front decals.
  • We hope the project will provide data and anecdotal feedback on the success of the lid decal designs and recommendations for City Staff looking to improve the zero waste stations.
  • The research scope and approach will be collaboratively defined with Paul Gagnon from the City of Vancouver.

Skills Preferred + To Be Developed

  • Collaboration
  • Basic behavioural research skills
  • An interest in communications/outreach/engagement
  • Market analysis of individual and consumer behaviour

Preferred Days of Week and Hours

  • Flexible with students’ schedules.
  • Final project showcase at City Hall April 7th, 9-noon

Project/Partner Orientation

Student Zero Waste Station Sorting Videos:

  • Meet the Zero Waste Station

  • Zero Waste is Simple

  • Recycle Evolve

  • How to Sort Waste Properly - Quiz Style

  • The Field Guide on Human-Centered Design

Investigate best practices for Waste Diversion campaigns and activities. What seems to be working well in other communities? 
This is a good place to start:

Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will learn about the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan and Zero Waste Strategy.
  • Students will come to appreciate the nuances and challenges of behaviour change for sustainability.
  • Students will be inspired to continue to engage with local politics and policy makers to work towards a more sustainable and inclusive city.

Organizational Outcomes

  • New perspectives and insight on ways to connect and inspire citizens to divert their waste.
  • Data to support making changes (or maintaining) the current signage system
  • New designs for possible decals on Zero Waste stations
  • Inspiration to continue to work for higher waste diversion rates across the city