Environment Dissertation Topics

We have provided the selection of example environment dissertation topics below to help and inspire you.

Example environment dissertation topic 1:

Householders, waste generation and recycling: A review of the effects of changes in kerbside collection arrangements in Gwent.

ACORN is a geo-demographic segmentation of the UK’s population which divides small neighbourhoods, postcodes, or consumer households into five categories, seventeen groups and 56 types. Using ACORN classification, this dissertation looks at the effects that a proposed change in the nature of kerbside collection arrangements could have on the generation of waste and the percentage of recycling undertaken by householders in Gwent. In addition to hypothesising the likely changes in the amount of waste that could be recycled (by comparing present recycling figures with those achieved elsewhere) this study also uses a questionnaire to assess residents’ perceptions of the importance of recycling more rubbish.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Burnley, S.J, Ellis, J.C., Flowerdew, R., Poll, A.J. and Prosser, H. (2006). ‘Assessing the composition of municipal solid waste in Wales’, Resources, Conversation and Recycling, Vol. 49(3), pp. 264-283.
  • Davies, S. (2007). ‘Politics and the markets: The case of municipal waste management’. Cardiff University, School of Social Science, Working Paper No. 5. Paper presented in the panel session, local service privatization international perspective at the APPAM Fall Conference, Washington DC, USA.
  • Emery, A.D, Griffiths, A.J. and Williams, K.P. (2003). ‘An in-depth study of the effect of socio economic conditions on household waste recycling practices’, Waste Management Research, Vol. 21, pp. 180-190.

Example environment dissertation topic 2:

Office waste management: A comparative case study.

Using a ten day audit over two working weeks, this comparative study first analyses and then proffers suggestions for greater recycling for two organisations that work within a similar field: the Registrars’ offices at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University. The ten day audit enables baseline data to be obtained and the types of recycling waste are also measured A five day waste audit is conducted to obtain quantitative data and to identify the types of recyclable waste (as well as normal waste) being created by the two departments. In addition, questionnaires are sent to all staff members in the two officers so as to garner an understanding of their views as to how waste management is presently dealt with by their respective organisations and how it should be dealt with. Barriers to effective waste management within an office environment are noted in this dissertation, along with cultural changes that need to be initiated so as to ensure that a greater proportion of waste is recycled in an appropriate manner.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Frazer, L. and Lawley, M. (2000). Questionnaire design and administration. Richmond, Vic: John Wiley and Sons.
  • Gascoigne, J.L. and Ogilvie, S.M. (1995). ‘Recycling waste materials: Opportunities and Barriers’. In Hester, R.E. and Harrison, R.M. (eds), Waste treatment and disposal. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, pp. 91-113.
  • Gilmour, B. and Manns, H. (2001). A practical guide to waste management for universities and colleges. Cheltenham: Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges.

Example environment dissertation topic 3:

A survey as to the feasibility of installing micro-wind turbines upon the roof of the Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham.

The Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) is the larger of the two NHS hospitals in Nottingham. In accordance with the targets set by the NHS, the hospital needs to achieve a 10% reduction in its carbon emissions by 2015 (NHS, 2009). One solution to meeting this is to change the hospital’s current fossil fuel dependency. Accordingly, this dissertation looks at the feasibility of installing micro-wind turbines on the roof of the QMC and the effect that this would have on both the hospital’s carbon emissions as well as its fuel bills. It features both secondary research, in the form of an extensive literature review, and primary research at the Girvan Community Hospital in Ayrshire.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Hirahara, H., Hossain, M.Z., Kawahashi, M. and Nonomura, Y. (2005). ‘Testing basic performance of a very small wind turbine designed for multi-purposes’, Renewable Energy, Vol. 30(8), pp. 1279-1297.
  • Hopkins, W. (1999). ‘Small to medium size wind turbines: Local use of a local resource’, Renewable Energy. Vol. 16(1), pp. 944-947.
  • NHS (National Health Service) Sustainable Development Unit (2009). NHS carbon reduction strategy for England. Cambridge: NHS Sustainable Development Unit.

Example environment dissertation topic 4:

GM crops: Public perceptions of their desirability amongst residents of Yorkshire.

As the largest county in England, Yorkshire is home to a diverse mix of socio-economic groups as well as industrial and agricultural concerns. Using SPSS analysis, this dissertation questions 400 respondents (100 in each of the four cities of Sheffield, York, Leeds, and Bradford) to ascertain the view of Yorkshiremen (and women) as to the desirability of GM crops. Using a two-tiered questionnaire (in which respondents are initially interviewed before being re-interviewed two weeks later – during which time they are supplied with an array of printed material outlining the benefits of GM crops) this is a dissertation that would be particularly suited to postgraduate level investigation or the ambitious undergraduate.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Gaskell, G., Allum, N., Bauer, M.W., Jackson, J., Howard, S. and Lindsey, N. (2003). ‘Ambivalent GM nation? Public attitudes to biotechnology in the UK 1991-2002’, Life Sciences in European Society Report: London School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Legge Jr., J. S. and Durant, R. F. (2010). ‘Public opinion, risk assessment, and biotechnology: Lessons from attitudes toward genetically modified foods in the European Union’, Review of Policy Research, Vol. 27(1), pp. 59-76.
  • Poortinga, W. and Pidgeon, N.F. (2003). Public perceptions of genetically modified food and crops, and the GM nation? Public debate on the commercialisation of agricultural biotechnology in the UK: Main findings of a British survey. Norwich: Centre for Environmental Risk.

Example environment dissertation topic 5:

Home composting in North Oxfordshire: A quantitative study in garden environmental waste management and recycling.

With its picturesque villages, Georgian houses and above-average levels of wealth, North Oxfordshire also benefits from a vibrancy of community spirit enshrined in organisations such as Low Carbon Oxford North and the Steeple Aston Horticultural Society. As a consequence, it is an area rich in potential data with regard to home composting. Working with twenty local residents, this dissertation charts a yearly cycle of waste management that includes composting, kitchen refuse recycling, mulching and green-bark reuse. Through so doing it hopes to provide a framework for responsible environmental gardening that can be used by householders throughout England so as to not only maximise recycling opportunities but also further improve organic gardening techniques.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Edgerton, E., McKechnie, J. and Dunleavy, K. (2008). ‘Behavioral determinants of household participation in a home composting scheme’, Environment and Behaviour, Vol. 41(2), pp. 151-169.
  • Sharp, V., Georgi, S. and Wilson, D.C. (2010). ‘Delivery and impact of household waste prevention intervention campaigns (at the local level)’, Waste Management and Research, Vol. 28(3), pp. 256-268.
  • Smith, S.R. and Jasim, S. (2009). ‘Small-scale home composting of biodegradable household waste: Overview of key results from a 3-year research programme in West London’, Waste Management and Research, Vol. 27(10), pp. 941-950.

Example environment dissertation topic 6:

Beauty salons and carbon emissions: A blue print for the reduction of green house gases produced by small and medium sized enterprises.

Anthropogenic emissions have a negative effect on the environment. Moreover, they are, according to the IPCC (2007), causing climate change. Businesses within the UK currently account for at least 40% of the greenhouse gases created within the UK and the government has set stringent targets for reducing greenhouse gases by 2050. Though the majority of government initiatives have been focused towards larger enterprises this dissertation realises that small and medium sized enterprises also have a role to play in reducing carbon emissions. Accordingly it provides primary research upon the role of hairdressing salons in the creation of greenhouse gases and offers practical solutions by which this sector can reduce its negative impact upon the environment.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007). Climate change 2007: The physical science base. Summary for policymakers. Geneva: IPCC.
  • Lowrie, K.W. and Greenberg, M. (1997). ‘Promoting ground water pollution prevention in small businesses’, Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Vol. 33, pp. 193-204.
  • Pino, S., Levinson, R. and Larsen, J. (2006). Hot climate, cool commerce: A Service sector guide to greenhouse gas management. Washington, DC: World Resource Institute.

Example environment dissertation topic 7:

The wider environmental positives of reducing red mite infestations amongst poultry: A small-holder survey.

Red mites are a temporary ecto-parasite that can cause a number of problems for poultry owners as infestation can make chickens anaemic and may result in death. Given the environmental desirability to decrease food miles and the resultant benefits that increasing the number of poultry small-holders within the country brings, this dissertation looks at two distinct aspects of poultry rearing with regard to red mite. First, it examines small-holders’ perceptions as to the dangers of red mite by interviewing twenty small-holders in and around Stroud. Thereafter, it carries out a cost-benefit analysis for small-holders of utilising coops to be made out of recycled plastic rather than wood, as red mites are harboured in the crevices of wood. Secondly, the paper evaluates the level to which insecticides sprayed by small-holders are entering the wider environment, and whether the use of plastic coops outweighs this chemical hazard.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bettany, S. and Kerrane, B. (2011). ‘The (post-human) consumer, the (post-avian) chicken and the (post-object) Eglu: Towards a material-semiotics of anti-consumption’, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 45(11/12), pp.1746-1756.
  • Houghton-Wallace, J. and Lister, S. (2012). ‘Clinical avian practice: Backyard poultry: Husbandry and general management’, In Practice, Vol. 34, pp. 136-145.
  • Maltby, L., Blake, N., Brock, T.C.M. and Van den Brink, P.J. (2005). ‘Insecticide species sensitivity distributions: Importance of test species selection and relevance to aquatic ecosystems’, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 24(2), pp. 379-388.

Example environment dissertation topic 8:

‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’: An analysis of how the amount of food waste can be reduced – A prison-based case study.

Working with HMP Channings Wood, in Devon, this dissertation seeks to provide the prison with a framework for waste minimisation. In order so to do, this study first carries out an audit with regard to the types of foodstuffs that the prison buys in (including their packaging) and thereafter assesses what items could be produced on site so as to reduce food miles. Subsequently, it analyses the present waste produced (in terms of excess food produced) and proposes a range of options whereby the prison could recycle such waste material. These include, not only changes to the nature of menu-planning within the prison but also a feasibility study as to the potential to opening a small pig-farm within the premises by which food slops could be reused.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Pretty, J.N., Ball, A.S., Lang, T. and Morison, J.I.L. (2005). ‘Farm costs and food miles: An assessment of the full cost of the UK weekly food basket’, Food Policy, Vol. 30(1), pp. 1-19.
  • Tittle, P. (2012). ‘Scrubs up for food waste’, Material Recycling World, 15th June 2012.
  • Webster, A. (2010). ‘Environmental prison reform: Lower costs and greener world’, New England Journal on Crime and Civil Confinement, Vol. 36, pp. 175-185.

Example environment dissertation topic 9:

Bio-diversity within industrial sites: A use of waste-ground rejoinder.

Focusing upon the sites of former petro-chemical production, this dissertation seeks to assess the extent to which the waste-grounds that surround industrial concerns could be transformed into a rich bio-diverse environmental haven for wildlife. In addressing this issue this dissertation looks at three distinct aspects. First, it examines the existing cultural barriers within the corporate management of industry to the re-use of waste ground within sites. Secondly, it explores whether central-government inspired legislation should be considered with regard to the maintenance of bio-diversity within such sites. Thirdly, it evaluates the effects that embracing policies that increase bio-diversity upon such sites would have upon the consumers of the products made therein.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Cardskadden, H. and Lober, D.J. (1998). ‘Environmental stakeholder management as business strategy: The case of the corporate wildlife habitat enhancement programme’, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 52, pp. 183-202.
  • Oldham, R.S., Keeble, J., Swan, M.J.S. and Jeffcote, M. (2000). ‘Evaluating the suitability of habitat for the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus)’, Herpetological Journal, Vol. 10(4), pp.143-155.
  • White, G.J. and Gilberts, J.C. (eds.) (2003). Habitat creation handbook for the minerals industry. Sandy: The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Example environment dissertation topic 10:

Increasing the environmental life cycle: The repair, recycling and reuse of student desks and beds and its environmental impact. A University of Northampton case-study.

The short life cycle of many products has helped lead to a throw-away society. Focusing on the HE sector and two products (desks and beds, including mattresses) this dissertation firstly carries out a cost analysis and life cycle assessment with regard to the present replacement costs experienced by the University of Northampton. Though much research has been carried out relating to waste management, less has been carried out with regard to the environmental and cost benefits of repair and reuse – and it is this gap in the existing literature that this dissertation addresses.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Asiedu, Y. and Gu, P. (1998). ‘Product life cycle cost analysis: State of the art review’, International Journal of Production Research, Vol. 36(4), pp. 883-908.
  • Bromhead, A. (2010). A report on designing office furniture to aid remanufacture. Aylesbury: Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse.
  • Spitzley, D.V., Dietz, B.A. and Keoleian, G.A. (2006). Life-cycle assessment of office furniture products. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

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