City of Vancouver – Put Waste in its Place: Take-Out Containers






** Congratulations to the members of this group for placing first in the CityStudio Hubbub poster session in April 2018 + addressing Vancouver municipal council with their project findings in May 2018!

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 take-away containers.

Areas of Focus

  • Behavioural economics
  • Waste diversion
  • 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 in April 2018 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 Vancouver & 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): Ileana Costrut & 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 waste reduction and diversion at community centers.
  • The focus for the 2017-18 terms will be to come up with and test out strategies to reduce the use of single-use, disposable items such as coffee cups, plastic water bottles, plastic bags and take-away food containers.
  • 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 centers 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.

  • 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 December 1, 2017
  • Last year 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 suggested more research was 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 a baseline at their community center, then prototype two possible social media campaigns addressing the over use of single-use items. People feel that if they recycle single-use items that they are doing the right thing. We would like to make people aware of the Prius effect or Rebound Theory and normalize the behavior of using reusable items instead of single-use items.
  • We hope the project will provide data and anecdotal feedback on the success of the social media campaign and recommendations for City Staff looking at reducing the amount of single-use waste items going into 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 in April 2018 (exact date to be determined)

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 reduce their waste, particularly single-use, disposable items.
  • New engagement strategies for waste reduction
  • Test out a strategy and make recommendations backed by data
  • Inspiration to continue to work for higher waste reduction rates across the city