torsdag 30 november 2017

Barriers for sustainable waste management practices in grocery stores (paper)

The topic of my previous blog post was a paper that we submitted to the upcoming ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S) conference. This blog post is about another paper I submitted to that same conference. The paper "Barriers for sustainable waste management practices in grocery stores: Exploration by Research-through-Design" is written by Sofie Nyström (RISE Research Institutes of Sweden), Cecilia Katzeff (KTH Royal Institute of Technology) and Daniel Pargman (KTH Royal Institute of Technology). I am yet again the third author and it's really so much better to have a slightly withdrawn position when you work on several papers in parallell (and simultaneously have a heavy teaching load).

The paper builds on Sofie's excellent master's thesis that she wrote just this past spring (January - June 2017). She was a master's student at KTH earlier this year but now works in the Energy Design studio at RISE Interactive. While I was not her thesis advisor, me and Cecilia ran the project within which her thesis was written and I also accompanied Sofie to two of the interviews she did as part of her thesis.

While her master's thesis was well written, we still had to work extensively with repurposing and reshaping it for it to become a good research paper and the end result is quite different from the thesis she presented half a year ago. Here's the paper abstract:

Barriers for sustainable waste management practices in grocery stores: Exploration by Research-through-Design

Since natural resources are limited, we need to ensure that materials are reused and recycled to the highest degree possible. Information and feedback as well as incentives may encourage people to alter their behavior. In this paper, we explore waste practices within grocery stores and how feedback through visualizations may help stores improve their waste management. We have studied the gap between current waste data and waste data that is both meaningful and can be acted upon as well as barriers between actionable data and organizational change. Nine interviews were conducted with a central facilities manager, store managers, employees and a representative from the waste collection company. Based on the results from these interviews, two mockups of web visualizations were designed and later evaluated in two additional stores. The initial interviews highlighted knowledge about waste, economic and environmental incentives for recycling and current modes of feedback and comparisons between stores. The mockups also reveal structural tensions between economic and environmental goals that wouldn’t be affected solely by better visualization of data. We conclude by discussing obstacles that needs to be overcome to reach organizational change in terms of more sustainable waste management practices in grocery stores.

Keywords—waste management practices, data visualization, grocery stores, research through design, design mockups.

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