Recyclops: Recycling, Composting and Sustainability at Cornell

American consumers are faced with a multitude of ways to be wasteful. One area in which this is especially true is in food delivery. How can businesses and policy makers create incentive structures and good options for consumers to make their consumption of food delivery/take out more sustainable? If given a way to reuse the containers their food comes in, how often will consumers do this under various settings? How effective are different incentives at increasing the level at which consumers will reuse the containers? We will be working with The Eating Club, a student-run Cornell business, to answer this question. The Eating Club is a subscription service that delivers meals every Saturday to Cornell students for a weekly, or semesterly, rate.

The goal is two-fold: to both help the Eating Club become more sustainable as well as answer the research questions about how people act under different incentive conditions. It is a program that will require a basic product (reusable containers).

To accomplish this, we wil be comparing weekly success rates, cleanliness, and lost rates among different groups. Specifically, we will offer a monetary reward (discount) to one group, send reminder emails to another group (information campaign), and do nothing to a third group (control). Additionally, we may conduct interviews with people from each group to hear about their experience, and ask if the incentives (or lack thereof) were relevant in their decision to return the container each week.

By comparing specific results across three controlled groups, we can hopefully distinguish between which incentive structures are yielding which results. This will be the most clear way to answer our research question. Interviews will be useful to understand why each incentive was effective or not, as well as understanding potential confounds for each group.


  • Jacob Levy
  • Sofiya Tsenter