Below you will find the results and data from past waste assessments. To be involved in future waste assessments and outreach, please contact OWRR at 919-962-1442 or email us. You may also download a safety checklist on our Safety page.
The results were varied, given the diversity of the buildings studied. In Morrison, where the students are responsible for taking their trash and recycling outdoors themselves, a high percentage (47%) of traditional recyclables were found in the trash, highlighting the need for further education and outreach to this population. At the Smith Center, almost half of the trash (49%) was compostable, showcasing the strong potential for waste reduction in this area. At Mary Ellen Jones, when recyclables and compostable material were taken together, the potential for waste reduction was over 50%.
What did we find? A lot of food waste—about 46% was compostable. 25% of the materials could be recycled in the current recycling programs in the building. Of the currently recyclable items, mixed paper was most commonly thrown in the trash. We also found 1.6 pounds of reusable office supplies, such as staplers, pens, and rulers.
So, what’s in our trash? Only 17% of materials thrown away were “true trash.” About 46% of the materials could have been recycled through the current indoor recycling program. This demonstrates that there is enormous potential for growth for recyclable material on campus, just by putting it in the bin! Bottle-shaped plastics and mixed paper made up the majority of this category.
Compostables, including food waste, bio-plastics and food-soiled paper products accounted for 33% of the waste. These are not accepted through our current program, but provide a picture of where growth is possible.
OWRR has plans to continue waste audits on a building- by-building basis. If you are interested in having your trash analyzed, please let us know!
Thanks to Anna Langley and Chelsea Woodfin for volunteering and Ashley Mui for her coordination of the waste audit!
During Fall 2010, an Environmental Capstone class conducted waste assessments at three campus sites: the Business School, the Law School, and the Student Union. John Allen, Emma Anderson, Carly Buch, Cori Fowler, Ellie Kuhn, and Julian March interviewed students, staff and faculty about waste behaviors in these buildings. They also collected, sorted and weighed waste from various areas within the buildings including classrooms, offices, and public areas such as libraries, dining areas, and lounges.
The results of the waste assessments showed that 20% of the materials in the trash, such as bottles, cans and paper of all types, could have been recycled in existing programs. Another finding was that 55% of the materials in the garbage in these buildings were compostable times such as food waste and wet paper.
This data will be used to target recycling programs specific to these buildings. Also, we hope to create an on-going waste assessment program to look at waste composition and behaviors for specific buildings. Customized action steps for the population of each area studied will follow. To be involved in future waste assessments and outreach, please contact OWRR at 919-962-1442 or email us.