Piñones Recycling Implementation and Waste Management

Sponsoring organizations: LimPiaR

Team members: Sophia Togneri (Biochemistry ’23), Kyle Johns (Biomedical Engineering ’23), Anthony Bozza (Biomedical Engineering ’23), Shane Dancer (Biochemistry ’23)

Advisors: Prof. Scott Jiusto and Prof. Gbetonmasse Somasse


In collaboration with the non-profit, LimPiaR, our team’s goal was to implement a recycling program in Piñones, Puerto Rico, while simultaneously educating the local population about the importance of recycling to the surrounding ecosystems. Prior to our project, Piñones struggled with a poor waste management infrastructure resulting in inability to recycle plastics which often accumulated as litter on the beaches. Through research, documentation, interviews, and surveys, our team was able to formulate our project’s deliverables. The project resulted in an educational poster campaign, interactive workshops with local restaurants, the installation of a 22x7x9 ft recycling container, & an overall recycling program for community members & 7 businesses with potential for expansion.

Full IQP Report

IQP Supplemental Submitted Material

IQP Final Presentation


Piñones is a small, tight-knit, beachside community of 2,300 residents located on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico and is a high tourist destination for both domestic and international travel. Unfortunately, the same restaurants and community which make Piñones such a desirable travel destination also serve as a source for problematic amounts of waste buildup from both the restaurants and tourists. The large amounts of waste generated, combine with poor exposure to recycling are debilitating to the communities. Our team partnered with LimPiaR, a non-profit organization based in Piñones, to fabricate a plan to implement a recycling program for local restaurants and residents living in Piñones. After discussing with LimPiaR and community leaders, we learned that many community members have never heard of or been exposed to recycling. Therefore, a major focal point of this program was, not only implementing a recycling program, but also educating the public and community about recycling so that once the program was in place it would be successful. This project will provide that opportunity to Piñones and attempt to solve the deep-rooted infrastructural problems.

Mission Statement: The overall goal of this project was to implement a recycling program in Piñones and create an educational campaign to raise awareness among community members, tourists, and restaurants.

Objective 1: The first objective was to improve our understanding of key components to the project, such as current waste production and management, and deep-rooted structural and societal issues.

Objective 2: The second objective was to create an educational poster campaign to promote recycling and composting, and beach messaging. This process involved making multiple different posters that fit the requests of our sponsors, then using their input and feedback to narrow down to the most effective posters and adjust them to better accomplish their purpose.

Objective 3: The third objective was to develop a schedule and procedure for both recycling and composting. We created multiple schedules for LimPiaR, based on the business’ availability, to reference and help the program run smoothly.

Objective 4: The fourth objective was to design and conduct training workshops and implement beach signs. To prepare for the workshops, the restaurant owners were interviewed, providing poster feedback, informing us where the posters and recycling bin would go, and telling us when they are available for the workshop. Then, an instructional workshop plan was created that would be used to teach the restaurants and community about how to recycle correctly with LimPiaR.


This section will relay what our team learned as a group during our time in Puerto Rico to the reader. The chapter will include a section for each objective and those objectives corresponding findings broken up into more concise subcategories.

Limitations of the Waste Management Infrastructure in Piñones

Current Waste Management Practices in Piñones: The poor waste management system, inconsistent trash pickup, and inability to recycle is highlighted in Piñones to governmental neglect as an effect of socioeconomic discrimination and systemic racism.

Recycling Educational Level of the Community: Our sponsors explained that the community has little to no experience or education about recycling, many also were unaware of the universal recycling symbol and what it means.

Composting in the Community: Compared to recycling, composting is a much more difficult and involved process. In addition, there was no infrastructure to support the program, this combined with the limited resources of LimPiaR made it unrealistic to complete at this time.

Creation and Implementation of Educational and Messaging Materials Using Community Input & Interviews

Result of the beach cleanup at which future poster locations were determined

Poster Creation: To tailor these posters towards the community, our team had community leaders, local business owners, and local residents provide constructive feedback to offered suggestions on the poster designs. These comments and suggestions were then implemented into the final poster designs.

Poster Printing & Implementation: For the posters to be the most effective, we learned quickly that they must be able to withstand the elements and stay posted up for large amounts of time. Therefore, our team knew that we needed to create posters with long term durability, this led us to laminating every poster.

We developed a series of posters, 4 of which are currently in use, which are focused on recycling, keeping the beach clean, and protecting the local ecosystems.

Table 1: Summary of Printed Posters

For quick access to high quality images of the posters:

Recycling Display (Simple)

Recycling Guide (Steps)

Guide to Leaving a Clean Footprint

Piñones Ecosystem

Environmentally-Minded Restaurants

Other Educational Materials: One of the big problems that we learned from the restaurant interviews is that they believe their staff may accidentally throw trash into the recycling bin when the restaurant is busy. Therefore, our team decided that it would be best to use special recycling cans where the top of the container only has a small hole that will only fit cans, waters, and other small recyclable items. In addition to creating recycling lid stickers, our team designed recycling stickers to raise money and spread awareness about LimPiaR.

Scheduling and Organizational Logistics of the Program:

For the recycling and composting programs to run smoothly, it is necessary that the participants are aware of when and where they will be able to participate, including both the restaurants and the residents. To ensure this understanding, a schedule has been created which details the times at which different events will happen, such as the recycling pickup for restaurants or when the recycling container is available to the residents.

Research Culminates into Interactive Educational Training:

IFCO Interviews:

In order to prepare the most effective and efficient workshops, our team held an interview with IFCO, the recycling company, to learn more about the different processes. The information from these interviews allowed us to create effective workshops focusing on highlighting the main products that will be recycled rather than the detailed recycling process.

Designing Workshops:

Our team developed 30-minute workshops that consisted of both lecture-based information, as well as hands-on activities to teach the restaurants what they can recycle. These workshops will take place over two separate days. The first meeting will include the preparation and placement of the recycling containers, as well as a short explanation on how to properly recycle. The second will consist of going through the recycling that the restaurants collected over the previous week and providing constructive feedback on how they did and how they can improve the process.


Throughout the process of implementing a recycling program, potential issues for the recycling program became apparent along with other programs which could be implemented to tackle different varieties of waste. After our group leaves Piñones, it is vital that LimPiaR follow a specific set of actions in order to guarantee that the recycling programs runs effectively for a long time. Furthermore, once the recycling program has been successfully implemented, there are other actions LimPiaR can take to further reduce the waste produced and left in the local environment.

From our experience designing and implementing the posters, we recommend that LimPiaR performs the following actions:

  • Monitor the posters: Replace any damaged or missing posters
  • Consult graphic designer for future change: Better and more cohesive art will increase the amount of people looking at the posters
  • Maintain consistency between the posters: Homogeneity across posters increases recognition
  • Heavily consider bilingual posters: This will widen the target audience significantly

Based on our findings from local resident interviews, restaurant interviews, and our findings from our time in Puerto Rico, we recommend that LimPiaR keeps the following things in mind when expanding the recycling program:

  • Start with a simpler program: Start small to address unexpected problems before expanding
  • Expanding the project in a controlled manner: Moving slowly will result in all participants being well educated on the process
  • Master Plastics one & two before moving onto four: Plastic four is much harder to identify and may lead to problems with IFCO if implementation is rushed
  • Document heavily: The more details available the easier it will be to apply for grants or change scheduling

Based on our findings from the Tais interviews and our extensive research, we recommend that LimPiaR keeps the following things in mind when implementing the composting program:

  • Understanding the infrastructure and resources needed to maintain the program: The composting process was unexpectedly complex, so implementation of the program should be approached slowly and carefully
  • Learn, trust, and rely on the experts when implementing the program: LimPiaR should refer and defer to Tais for composting information as much as possible
  • Implement the program at the right time: Wait until the recycling program is running smoothly to avoid overwhelming participants or the LimPiaR team

Based on our findings from our time in Puerto Rico and our extensive research, we recommend that LimPiaR keeps the following things in mind when they are ready to expand to other projects:

  • Tackling the glass bottle issues: Investing in a glass pulverizer would allow reuse and recycling of the overabundant glass bottles
  • Creating a restaurant certification program: Creating a guide for restaurants to follow including suggestions like limiting disposable plastic use would reduce waste significantly
  • Eliminating single use plastics: Elimination of single use plastics in restaurants could lead to a local movement to stop using plastics.