The Effect of Waste and Waste Management on the University of Maine and Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Author: Alexis Welch
Graduation Year: 2021
Thesis Advisor: Allison Gardner
Description of Publication: The Covid-19 pandemic closed the University of Maine the second week of March. Quickly following, most of the country was on lockdown. The virus also has directly affected the University of Maine and its waste stream due to the drastic changes in population and the types of waste being produced. The purpose of this study is to first analyze the direct effects on the amount of waste produced per category on campus in 2019 compared to 2020. The main categories are municipal solid waste, single stream, compost, demo debris, metals, electronics, hazardous waste, universal waste, and biowaste. The second purpose of the study is to learn how the University of Maine community perceives waste and how the Covid-19 pandemic affected those perceptions of the waste. To address the first objective, I conducted an analysis of campus waste from data collected by the University of Maine facilities department in 2019 and 2020. To address the second objective of the study, an IRB-approved survey was distributed to people affiliated with the University of Maine campus (students, alumni, faculty, parents, and others) via social media and email. The results of this study revealed a large decrease in waste production on campus, but an increase in municipal solid waste production per University of Maine residential on-campus student. The study also showed that the University of Maine community is aware that waste and waste management should be of concern to the University and the country. The respondents also believed that the Covid- 19 pandemic has increased the amount of waste they have produced. These results of the study could be helpful in further research on how pandemics affect waste and waste management, as well as, how to better prepare for the future. Further research, discussed below, could be conducted on how waste and waste management is affected by a pandemic. With a more in-depth study over a longer period of time, suggestions on how to prepare for these future possible situations could be made.
Location of Publication:
URL to Thesis: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/honors/706