Residence Hall Waste Audit Summary

– This post from Sustainability Assistant Jake M. — 

In celebration of Earth Week and to “Get Out of the Landfill,” students sifted through sample bags of trash from each of the residence halls. Each residence had been given the challenge to trash as little recyclable waste as possible over the course of the week. The trash was then sorted between actual trash and materials that could have been recycled. Our recycling crew took the time earlier in the semester to establish a baseline of what kind of waste each residence was producing in terms of actual trash and recyclables put into the trash.

Earth Day Audit fig 1

(Figure 1) Results of Earth Day Trash Audit

In raw percentage of potentially recycled material (figure 1) our best performers were Maplewood (15%) and East View (20%) while the worst performer was Woodhall (72.7%). When we looked at the percentage change from the baseline averages of each residence’s trash production (figure 2) our top performer was East View with a 54% reduction in the amount of recycled materials trashed while our TerraHaus/Cottages sample showed a 29% increase in lost recycling.

(Figure 2) Recycle Improvement from Baseline

(Figure 2) Recycle Improvement from Baseline

While there are many useful bits of information we can pull from this, perhaps the two most important are that first, as evidenced by East View, there is always room for improvement and it’s very easily done. Second, as evidenced by our lowest performers we still have plenty of opportunity to pick some low hanging fruit in our efforts to drive our overall waste production down. This will of course be a never ending team effort by everyone on campus; on campus and off campus, Students, Staff and Faculty alike. The good news is that we already doing well and we can continue to stay on the up and up with relative ease if we stay mindful of the challenges involved. But come on, who doesn’t like the sounds of perpetually winning?

-Jake McGinley 5/3/13

Residence Hall Waste Audit – Challenge This Week

Feb.2013 Waste Audit GraphMartin Maines, Unity’s Recycling warrior, has been hard at work developing a range of tracking and reporting systems to really understand our waste diversion rates and campus recycling habits.  The good news, by the tremendous effort of our stellar recycling crew and the support of recycling users throughout campus, our recycling stream is really clean.  Our waste diversion rate — that is, all campus waste that we keep OUT of the landfill, averaged about 42% last calendar year.  Not too shabby, but definitely needs some work.

A February waste audit of residence halls revealed just how much better we can do.  The above image shows the percentage of waste found in residence hall trash that could have been recycled if disposed of properly (in green).  Waste Audit results by residence hall have been posted in each hall for users to see the details.

This week, we’ll be checking residence halls again and the most improved hall will win a pizza party — sponsored by Student Activities and our Earth Week planning team. Come out to the Earth Fair on Friday at 3pm to see the results.  Additional prizes if you correctly guess the most improved residence hall.

So keep your trash recycling free!  And get that recycling out of the landfill!

Move Out Waste Diversion

One Stop Recycling and Free Box

Our campus recycling coordinator and waste diversion guru Martin Maines has been working with our student crew and the res. life team to make sure we keep as much stuff out of the landfill waste stream as possible during this spring’s campus move out.  One of these large bins will be placed in each residence hall in the coming week and monitored regularly through the end of the semester.

We’ve made it as easy on you as we can. Please place any items for recycling or donation in the bin, and we’ll take care of the rest.  No need to sort out recyclables or deal with overflowing residence hall recycling stations, just make sure it’s clean and usable.

We’ll Take:

  • All papers: cardboard, newspaper, office paper, magazines, paperboard
  • All containers: glass, plastic, metal, aluminum
  • nonperishable food
  • personal items
  • electronics
  • small appliances
  • clean clothes

*REMEMBER: this is s a free box and resource exchange, so feel free to take what you want.

We will not accept:

  • trash
  • plastic bags
  • styrofoam
  • dirty or ripped clothes
  • perishable food
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