This was the first waste characterization done by SCU, with help from Mission Trail Waste Systems and Julie Muir of PSSI, Stanford University.
We analyzed general SCU garbage, from the Facilities compactor. Only 26% of items were landfill, and most of the rest could have been composted or recycled.
This waste characterization inspired the Office of Sustainability and Facilities to start expanding the University's recycling education and introducing a compost program.
We did this waste characterization to analyze the amount
of pre- and post-consumer waste from Market Square that could be diverted either by recycling or composting. According to weight, half of the waste could have instead been composted and according to volume, half of the waste could have instead been recycled. Also, we found that a lot of silverware was thrown out, so we need to focus on keeping reusables out of the trash as well.
We did this waste characterization during the fall quarter after we first implemented the composting program in Benson.
The recycling category had the highest percentage volume which means we need to work on our recycling education. We still found some reusable plates and utensils from Benson.
This waste characterization, held during winter quarter, was not as good as the last one. The amount of landfill items decreased (an ideal waste characterization would have 100% landfill items), and we found a significant amount of plastic water bottles that still contained water; plastic made up the highest percentage of volume out of all the recyclables.
The upside to this waste characterization is that there was a significant decrease in the amount of compostable items in the dumpster.
However, recyclables still comprised nearly half the percentage of total items. Surprisingly, we found an unopened Monopoly game.
This characterization showed a significant improvement landfill percentage; almost half of items sorted were landfill waste. We did see a large amount of paperboard thrown out, which suggests that we need to increase education about paperboard. We are still seeing Benson plates thrown away in the trash.
This waste characterization was different than the ones we've held for residence halls in the past. Stephanie Hughes' Joy of Garbage class (40 students) sorted through trash from Leavey Events Center, a building that hasn't yet gone through the bin switch.
[Because the waste characterization had so many sorters, there is a much greater chance of sorting error.]
We noticed some things such as the prevalence of plastic bottles over glass or aluminum cans, and the large volume of paper towels that are being thrown away. Perhaps paper towel conservation can be a new facet of our recycling education and programs. Also, as demonstrated by the pie chart, there is a higher percentage of recyclable items than landfill, so we need to work on our recycling education overall.
Loyola Hall is a mix of staff/faculty offices and classrooms. This building has switched to the new recycling program. In comparison to past characterizations, we can see an increase of landfill waste by roughly 20%. The data suggests that the recycling program switch has been relatively successful thus far. Of course, we hope to get to 100% "landfill" in our trash cans... we're on our way!
O'Connor Hall is a mix of faculty offices and classrooms. This building has switched to the new recycling program. We also found items that we believe came from Alumni Science, a building that has not switched to the new recycling program yet.
In comparison to past characterizations, we can see an increase of landfill waste by roughly 20%. The data suggests that perhaps the recycling program switch has been relatively successful thus far. Of course, we hope to get to 100% "landfill" in our trash cans... we're on our way!