New Student Research Project Ideas


Students and academic advisors may need assistance when brainstorming for potential R&D projects. In addition to reviewing the list of Problematic Waste Materials, students may benefit from contacting local businesses, municipal Solid Waste Coordinators and the Department of the Environment (Solid Waste Branch or regional contacts) to discuss local needs and potential projects.

Although all proposals are subject to a formal committee review, some of the following concepts may help students when brainstorming ideas for Student Research Grant projects:

1. A study of quantities/quality of marine waste (fishing rope, nets, etc.) to explore markets and recycling processes for Nova Scotia.

2. Research pathogen variances and impact in the municipal composting process. Ex: Study with bio-solids 1%, 5%, 10% and study without bio-solids, factor in cooking time at 1yr, 3yr, 5yr (impact of bio-solids impact of time).

3. A practical look at various diversion solutions to address both current and future banned materials. Which waste woods are safe for pelletization and home/commercial heating? Can painted wood and wood products, such as engineered wood trusses or OSB be used? What about the effect of both glue and nails on both the quality for wood pellet (emissions) as well as the effect on the processing equipment?

4. Identifying social and behavioural barriers to waste-resource management (to increase participation ensuring that existing or new/innovative technologies are used to maximum benefit). Ex: A social marketing project (around the use of clear bags vs. other options) may be helpful.

5. Is there a business case/opportunity to convert waste C&D into a lower grade wood product (MDF, painted or scrap wood compressed into lower grade board)?

6. Vinyl siding: Quantities, collection practices and potential reuse.

7. Diaper recycling: What technologies are available, what is their economic footprint, what are the amounts in Nova Scotia, are options feasible here and, if so, under what conditions?

8. How much automobile windshield glass waste is produced in Nova Scotia, what is being done with it, what are options to recover and reuse?

9. There are many new engineered wood products entering the market. There may be an opportunity to explore the chemical and physical challenges of making new products out of these materials once they are at end of life.

10. Ceiling Tiles are a common building material. What are the common types in Nova Scotia? What is their chemical composition and are there chemicals of interest? Some manufacturers take them back and/or they are recycled. Are there opportunities for reuse in NS (blown in insulation)?

11. Footwear: What are the levels of donation? In what condition is the material? Is it acceptable for alternate uses? What are the barriers? What companies take back footwear? Are there any other solutions?

12. Can other products be created feasibly? Clean and shred it into a secondary insulation?

13. Plastic film is the most commonly used material for packaging in NS/Canada (e.g. cereal bags, wraps around many products, etc.) Seems to be a lack of awareness of the varieties that can be recycled? Where do we find it? Around what products? Can the varieties (#2, #4, #5) be recycled together? Are there any other film plastics types? Where are the markets?

14. Most municipal systems pick up recyclable materials at the curb through a bluebag program. Can more materials be added to the municipal system?

15. Public spaces recycling is still challenge. Are there opportunities to implement new practices or technologies to improve storing? (think malls, food courts, arena, etc.)

16. Assess organics still going to landfill due to packaging issues. Are there opportunities to depackage organics diverting both the organic content and the packaging?

17. Combining business and science, what are the most environmentally and fiscally responsible methods of handling waste food and beverage glass.

18. Where should old and broken fluorescent lights and CFL's go? Is it best in a second generation landfill, should it be to a hazardous waste disposal company, or to a special recycling facility/program? How should the chemicals and glass be handled? A study of Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs). Evaluate the realities of collection requirements and associated costs. Under what circumstances should the material(s) be recycled vs. landfilled?

19. Leaf & Yard Waste: Study the impact of municipal collection systems requiring paper bags (as opposed to plastic bags).  Is it cost effective and environmentally beneficial for municipalities to use paper bags instead of plastic bags?

20. Medical waste presents a variety of issues for waste managers, as it encompasses biomedical materials, biohazard materials, plastics, textiles, etc.  Better understanding this waste stream might identify better waste management practices and recycling opportunities. In addition to an assessing quantities/qualities, research could also focus on evaluating governing policies and current practices. 

21. There have been several studies on the advantages of using municipal-solid-waste compost in local agriculture, but many farming operations still do not use the material.  A student could survey a variety of growers in NS to identify the barriers to using MSW compost. 

22. A study on Nova Scotia's current export activity relating to solid waste resources. How much is Nova Scotia exporting? What materials are being sold nationally and internationally? Review various commodity markets. Are we missing opportunities? etc. 

23. How much automobile waste is landfilled in Nova Scotia? A study in collaboration with the Nova Scotia Auto Association might shed some light on diversion opportunities. Understanding the tonnages of window/windshield glass would also be of interest.

24. "Creosote Timber Reprocessing" Creosote timbers have very limited diversion options. One possible option is to cut off the top inch of creosote timbers to remove all creosote. The remaining timber can be sold. The creosote pieces can either be landfilled or remediated through a composting process. The study should determine any risks associated with such a process.

25. Test leachates, compost teas, and specialty composts that are rich in fungi and other micro-organisms to see how they perform against a variety of petroleum-type products.

26. Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) is expensive and challenging to recycle. Are all HHW products accurately classified? For example, some HHW compounds are volatile before they are used (pre-consumer) but dissipate after use (post-consumer). If the material changes form and may no longer be considered "hazardous" - how should these materials be treated?

27. A project to determine the effects of cold/hot beverage cups in the organics or paper streams. Is the polyethylene liner really a problem or is it just perceived to be?

28. Best practices for the provision of solid waste collection services in cottage country.

29. There are only a few small battery recycling programs throughout Nova Scotia. What programs are most effective to enhance battery recycling - examine national and international programs and make recommendations for Nova Scotia municipalities.

300 kg

To reach our goal of 300 kg, we all need to reduce our waste by one quarter.