Thesis - Volunteer opportunity: Waste and recycling at VU



In collaboration with the new waste tender PreZero, aiming for a zero-waste status at VU by 2030, this research initiative offers a unique opportunity for students to contribute to university sustainability goals. The project allows for two students to explore two impactful avenues: first, scrutinizing the physical aspects of waste and recycling, focusing on circularity and sustainable waste management practices; and second, investigating the behavioral aspects of waste reduction and recycling engagement among VU students. For those interested in the physical dimension, the study can broadly examine the use of r-strategies (refuse, rethink, reuse) on campus or more specifically analyze waste streams, such as the W&N building's demolition process, informing broader waste reduction strategies on campus. Alternatively, for students interested in behavioral aspects, the research will delve into communication patterns and student behaviors related to waste reduction initiatives. Understanding how to enhance student engagement in recycling efforts and sustainable practices is crucial for achieving PreZero's ambitious goal.


Through the VU Zero-Waste Initiative in partnership with PreZero, you will collaborate with VU’s research and staff and help them:

  1. To conduct an in-depth analysis of waste and recycling processes at VU, with a focus on circularity and sustainable waste management practices. This includes examining strategies such as refuse, rethink, and reuse within the campus environment.
  2. To study the waste streams associated with specific campus facilities, like the demolition process of the W&N building, and use these insights to inform broader waste reduction strategies at VU.
  3. To investigate the behavioral patterns of VU students in relation to waste reduction and recycling. This involves understanding current attitudes, habits, and challenges that students face in engaging with sustainable practices.
  4. To explore effective communication methods and behavioral change strategies to increase student participation in recycling and waste reduction initiatives.
  5. To provide actionable recommendations that align with the goal of achieving zero-waste status at VU by 2030, encompassing both the physical and behavioral aspects of waste management.

Throughout your assignment, you will have the opportunity to inform the development of waste management practices at VU. The anticipated outcome of this project is a comprehensive understanding of waste management challenges and opportunities at VU, leading to practical strategies and recommendations that support the university's trajectory towards zero-waste.

Depending on your academic focus and personal interests, you can choose to concentrate either on the tangible aspects of waste management and circularity or on the behavioral and communicative aspects, contributing essential research and solutions to this sustainability challenge.


- You are interested in the people aspect of Sustainability and

- You are a bachelor/master student at VU Amsterdam for the duration of the appointment

- You can come to VU on a regular basis

- You have good oral and written command of the English language

- You are open towards interdisciplinary collaboration and show a welcoming and tolerant work attitude.

- Desired background: Environmental Science, Waste Management, Sustainability Studies, Behavioral Psychology, Public Health, Ecology, Environmental Engineering, Circular Economy, or other related fields focusing on sustainable waste management practices, circularity, and behavioral change towards environmental consciousness.

What are we offering?:

By joining the project team, you will gain:

- Sustainability consulting experience

- Flexible desk and a study spot at the Green Office VU

- Peer reviewed publication in “Science for Sustainability” open access academic journal (when thesis is graded above 7.5)

Duration: From 1 February until 30 June 2023 (flexible)

Working hours: Approximately 8 hours per week depending on partner availability

Place: VU Amsterdam and remote

Supervision: TBA

Apply for this project