The Attitude of Secondary School Students toward the ...

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33rd International Conference on Organizational Science Development FOCUS 2020 th March 19 – 21st 2014, Portorož, Slovenia

The Attitude of Secondary School Students toward the Environmental Protection and Waste Separation in the Period 2010-2013 Marjan Senegačnik University of Maribor, Faculty of Organizational Sciences, Slovenia [email protected] Alenka Baggia University of Maribor, Faculty of Organizational Sciences, Slovenia [email protected] Anja Žnidaršič University of Maribor, Faculty of Organizational Sciences, Slovenia [email protected] Nataša Petrović University of Belgrade, Faculty of Organizational Sciences, Serbia [email protected] Abstract Paper presents the results of surveys about the relation of secondary school students to the environmental problems and waste separation. This survey was as a part of the campaign “Attention towards Environment” in the school year 2012-13 performed for the third time. The comparison of answers on questions for particular years was done as well as the statistical analysis of the data. By several questions statistically important differences have been observed. Some positive trends can be recognized. The degree of waste separation showed continuous increase in the period 2010-12. Students are also more and more aware of their own responsibility for regular waste treatment. Keywords: municipal waste, waste separation, environmental education, secondary school students



Modern waste treatment concept prefers all other modes of waste treatment (waste formation prevention, reuse, recycling, composting and energetic exploitation) rather than waste landfilling. When regarding municipal waste the implementation of modern waste concept is hardly achieved without separate collection of waste. One of the crucial conditions for successful separation of municipal waste is active participation of citizens. It is not necessary to emphasize that environmental education is very important as only citizens which are aware


of environmental problems and adequately informed will carefully separate the waste. However, environmental education is a long term process. In the majority of developed countries waste separation was performed for many years and citizens have got waste separation as a habit. Contrary, in many transition countries waste separation has been introduced only a few years ago and citizens have many problems to change their waste treatment practice. Particularly older people have many difficulties to adopt changes in waste collection. The difference between developed and transition countries can be clearly observed by the waste treatment statistics for European countries. European Union (EU) waste treatment policy tries to bring modern waste treatment concept into practice. Therefore, EU directives favour recycling and thermal exploitation of waste (incineration) as well as they disfavour landfilling. When regarding statistical data of waste treatment great differences among particular European states can be observed. Leal-Filho at al. when discussing waste treatment situation in Baltic Sea region countries have divided states from this part of Europe into three groups (Leal Filho et al., 2013). However, according to the statistical data of the EU it seems reasonable to extend such classification on the entire Europe (Eurostat, 2013). The first group consists of developed countries (mainly old European Union members). In these countries only a small part of waste is deposited on landfills and the majority of waste is recycled or thermally exploited. This is also connected with a high level of waste separation. Transition countries, new members of EU, which mainly compose the second group, exhibit lower rate of waste separation and consequently higher share of deposited waste and lower degree of recycling. The third group consists of some new EU members or transitional states which have not yet joined to the EU. The characteristic for this group is very low level of waste separation and recycling and almost entire waste quantity is deposited on landfills (Eurostat, 2013; Leal Filho et al., 2013). It is evident that great effort should be invested to overcome these disparities and to increase the rate of waste separation and recycling in all of the transition countries. Environmental education has very important role in promotion of modern waste concept in transitional countries (Leal Filho et al., 2013). Slovenia is one of the transitional countries. Slovenia has achieved good results in the rate of waste recycling and with the share of 34% ranks among developed countries. However, due to law rate of composting (6%) and thermal exploitation (2%) the share of landfilling is still too high (58%) (Eurostat, 2013). Separate collection of waste was in some Slovenian municipalities introduced almost twenty years ago meanwhile in the other municipalities waste separation has initiated only few years ago. Results in waste separation are not so bad nevertheless there is still considerable room for improvement. As mentioned, the role of education is very important – particularly education of young people. This was also the reason for initiating the campaign “Attention towards the Environment. The campaign “Attention towards the Environment(!)” was performed for the first time in the year 2010 (school year 2010/11). In the school year 2013/14 it is taking part for the fourth time. The campaign is initiated, coordinated and sponsored by the company Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires d.d. This company, a member of the Goodyear Dunlop group, is one of the leading producers of automotive tires in South-eastern Europe. The policy of the company is to support environmental initiatives in the Slovenia also in the fields which are not directly connected with the production of tires. The goal of the campaign “Attention towards the Environment” is to promote responsible relationship to the environment among secondary school students. The campaign is consisted of various activities of environmental topics:


lectures, excursions, competition in waste separation etc (Goodyear, 2013; Vuk et al., 2013). One of the activities of the campaign is every year also the survey about the relationship of students to the environmental problems and particularly waste separation practice is discussed. This paper is concerned with the analysis of data collected with surveys performed in the years 2010-2012. In the year 2010 the campaign »Attention towards the Environment(!)« was carried out for the first time. 2346 high school students from 7 schools answered the survey questions. In the following years, nevertheless the number of schools has increased (10 schools in 2011and 25 schools in 2012) the response of the students was not so high; in 2011 the survey included 532 students while in 2012 the number raised again to 718 students.


Sample description

As presented in Figure 1, the percentage of female participants was higher in the second and third year of the survey since only technical schools were involved in the first year.

Figure 1: Gender distribution of the participants. The ratio of participant attending secondary school and vocational school also differed during the years; the percentage of secondary school students was higher in 2012. The percentage of participants from the first year of study was higher each year, while the percentage of the last year students was smaller. The reason could be that the survey was carried out in spring time, when some of the last year students (and sometimes also from second and third year) were participating in practical courses and were not attending lectures at the time of the survey. Even though the campaign spread into all regions of Slovenia in 2012, the significant percentage of students were still coming from Gorenjska region (85.6%).


Research approach

Based on the survey responses, gathered during the tree years of campaign, several research questions were formulated. It was established that no statistically significant differences at 5 % significance level exist between the students' estimation of environmental awareness (ANOVA: p=0.160). There are also no significant differences at 5 % significance level in the


students' knowledge of handling with dangerous waste (chi-square test: p=0.611). In the year 2011 and 2012, students were asked if they noticed any changes of the waste management process in their school. Most of the students noticed that there were some improvements in the waste management process, but there are no statistically significant differences at 5 % significance level during the years (chi-square test: p=0.541). Around 40% of the students think they do not have a problem with a proper waste disposal, while the percentage of students having issues with disposal of packaging, paper and food waste is distributed around 20% each. Most of the students agree that the savings based on consistent waste management should be used for a trip or for educational purposes. Even though some statistically significant differences between the years exist in the estimation of environmental awareness and waste management attitude of the classmates, no pattern of change could be estimated. Statistically significant association at 5 % significance level exist between the association a person gets when thinking about waste and the year of the survey (chi-square test: p=0,000). For most of the students, waste is only something they would like to get rid of, but this percentages decrease over the years. The percentage of associations is given in Figure 2.

Figure 2: What association do you get when thinking about waste? One of the most important findings of the survey is that frequency of separated waste disposal in each category is statistically significant at 5 % significance level (p-values in all categories in the robust test of equality of means are equal to 0.000 ) and it is higher each year, as presented in Figure 3.


Figure 3: How often do you separate waste? The number of students who are convinced that public utility ensures proper waste separation and recycling process is growing, as presented in Figure 4.

Figure 4: What do you think happens to waste from eco-island? The percentage of students that are aware that environment and waste management is their own responsibility is growing, as shown in Figure 5.


Figure 5: Who do you think is responsible for waste management? Even though most of the students are aware of the importance of proper waste management and the advantages it brings along, a certain percentage of the students that do not see any advantages of proper waste management is still present as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6: What are the advantages of proper waste management?


One of the promising results of the survey is a number of households that still gather their waste in one joint waste-pin. The percentage of such households is decreasing as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7: How does your household collect waste?



As it has been mentioned there was certain number of research questions by which statistically significant differences have been observed. According to the statistical analysis of the data some trends can be recognized. Some findings about waste separation practice at home should be emphasized. Practically for all fractions of waste the share of separate disposal showed moderate but continuous growth in the period 2010-2012. In the 2012 the majority (about 90%) of students answered that they separate particular fractions at least often if not always – the share was something lower only in the case of cans. The rate of households where do not separate waste at all and deposit all the waste in the same bin decreased from 15% in 2010 to 10% in 2012. Besides this some positive changes can be recognized also when concerning with the answers on some more general questions. There can be observed continuous increase of students which are aware that every individual is responsible for waste treatment. Similarly increased the share of students which think over the waste problems and do not see in the waste only a thing they want to get rid of. It can be concluded that when comparing the answers of surveys in the period 2010-12 there cannot be found very evident changes. Nevertheless, some positive trends can be recognized. As environmental education is a process of long duration it is important for actions as is the campaign “Attention towards the environment” that they are repeated every year.


Literature Eurostat (2013): Eurostat Newsrelease: Environment in the EU27, 4th March 2013,, accessed January 27st 2014. Goodyear (2013): Pozor(!) ni za okolje,, accessed January 27th, 2014. Leal Filho W, Kroupiene J, Moora H, Stenmarck Å (2013): Towards Sustainable Waste Management in the Baltic Sea Region Countries: the contribution of universities, EESD13 Conference, University of Cambridge, Paper No.53,, accessed January 27th, 2014. Vuk D, Baggia A, Komatar A, Leskovar R, Senegacnik M. "Attention to the environment(!)" - efficient environmental initiative. V: Nova industrijalizacija, reinženjering i održivost : zbornik radova. Beograd: Fakultet organizacionih nauka, 2013, str. 257-262. Aceessible on:


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