Project Type

URC Presentation


Natural Resources and the Environment

College or School


Class Year



Environmental Science: Ecosystems

Faculty Research Advisor

Patricia Jarema


For several years, members of the UNH community have been participating in research through a project called “Plastics Recycling Awareness and Assessment”; a survey conducted by professor Patricia Jarema and her biological statistics students. The survey attempts to reach a random sample of community members, including on-campus, off-campus, and commuter students, as well as faculty and staff at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU). The survey questions address individuals’ recycling habits and related behaviors, varying from quizzing participants on their knowledge of proper recycling techniques, to assessing personal plastic use and motivation behind recycling. In 2020, the survey was updated to include additional questions regarding COVID-19 policies and impacts on plastic purchasing and recycling habits. Survey responses from 2019 and 2020 were analyzed to investigate the impacts of COVID-19 on plastic consumption and recycling habits between the two college campuses. Findings include a significant increase in some single use plastic items during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020), compared to the pre-pandemic responses (2019), as well as significantly incorrect recycling choices at both college campuses. These findings indicate how single use plastics consumption has not only increased due to the pandemic, but are also being improperly recycled across both college campuses.