Don’t throw your trash in my backyard:

Waste Audit finds only 38 per cent of recyclables disposed of properly

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Western’s 2007 Waste Audit results are sobering, but new plans for the future look hopeful.

EnviroWestern audited the waste of five buildings including Natural Sciences, the Richard Ivey School of Business, Stevenson-Lawson, the Weldon Library, and the Saugeen-Maitland residence in January 2007.

The five buildings generate an average of 16,628 lbs of waste per week. EnviroWestern found the amount of organics and recyclables in Western’s waste had increased from 61 to 69 per cent since the Dec. 2005 waste audit.

Recyclable paper accounted for 28.4 per cent of waste and organics comprised 30.3 per cent. Only 38 per cent of recyclables were properly disposed of, the report said.

Sixty-nine per cent of Western’s waste production could be reduced if recyclables were properly disposed of using the available services, and if organic waste was sorted and composted.

In doing so, Western would save $276,000 in waste disposal costs. Currently, Western pays $400,000 annually to dispose of waste and recyclables.

Although there is room for improvement, Jim Galbraith, manager of grounds maintenance and waste management, insists, “We’re likely at or near the top of Canadian Universities for our recycling standards.”

Galbraith said many universities do not recycle computer parts or fluorescent bulbs.

Physical plant plans to increase Western’s recycling output through promotion of Western’s recycling program. Western’s waste statistics and past waste audits will be available to the public on the physical plant’s webpage.

Increasing the accessibility of recycling is also on the agenda.

“We see things thrown into the garbage that should be in the recycling,” Galbraith said. “It has to be convenient. If [students] don’t see a recycling container nearby, they’ll just throw it in the closest garbage.”

“We want to make it easier for people,” Galbraith said.

Western’s Housing and Ancillary Services are also planning to reduce waste produce.

Galbraith said a sustainability committee, which brings green ideas to the residences, wants to eliminate the use of Styrofoam in residence cafeterias within the next year.

“Although I understand the need for take-out plates, there must be a more environmentally friendly solution. Eliminating the use of Styrofoam is an environmentally conscious decision that I am pleased with,” Alex Djorjevic, a second-year science student, said.

Galbraith is sure Western will not continue its wasteful habits for long. “I honestly don’t think that’s going to happen, Galbraith said. “Today, awareness about recycling is increasing.”

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