Residents of the municipality of Leeuwarden can now track and compare their amount of residual waste by using the Omrin app: a project to which three students of University College Fryslân (UCF) contributed. Nick Baumgart and Janna de Vries, two of these students, reflect on their participation.
Leeuwarden introduced a new waste policy from 1 January 2022. By using the Diftar method ('differentiated tariffs'), which looks at the amount of waste someone brings in, inhabitants of Leeuwarden will from 2023 onwards pay not only a fixed rate, but also per kilogram of residual waste or per bag offered. For this reason, the Omrin app now includes a waste label, which already gives residents insight into their waste separation behavior. The label was created by the students as part of UCF's Living Lab project, in which students collaborate with organizations to help solve global challenges.
“The label is especially aimed at students in Leeuwarden", explains Global Responsibility & Leadership student Janna. "We wanted to investigate how students in Leeuwarden can be stimulated to separate their waste more, working with the idea of the Diftar measure. We found that many students we talked to liked the idea of an app where they could track the amount of residual waste they produce in some form or another.”
Nick, also studying Global Responsibility & Leadership: “I was surprised that displaying money savings on the app seemingly has a smaller impact than showing how well an individual is doing in producing less waste. Literature studies show of different methods that were tested and found effective, so it was interesting to see what would be the best one in our scenario when comparing multiple options.”
The label's design is based on environmental-friendly motivations of residents and therefore shows the energy label. Janna initiated the design: “It's essentially a ladder with grades from A to F with the greener the colour the more environmentally friendly. We thought this feature would be recognizable to the users and potentially increase biospheric intentions as it is associated with environmentally-friendliness.”
As Leeuwarden is developing fast, as a sustainable city, but also as a student city, the Bachelor students hope that the app will contribute to the impact of Diftar by creating awareness at a micro-level. Nick: "Everyone knows we have to reduce plastic waste, but no one really knows how much they produce. The label makes that visible and makes users more aware of their waste reduction."
In the future the students hope that later versions of the app will be available in English too. Nick: "Separation might be different in the Netherlands compared to other countries. The app can potentially be an easy way to ensure that internationals separate waste correctly." Janna adds: "An important part when introducing measures like diftar is the perceived fairness. If a measure is attributed as unfair by a citizen, it is likely that they will reject it. I hope our contribution makes people feel like the measure is more fair and that they will accept it and participate in it."
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