Can the Waste Stream at the Columbia Lake Townhouses be Reduced?

Table of Contents:

1.0 Executive Summary

2.0 Introduction

3.0 Background

4.0 Research Question

5.0 Objectives

6.0 Actors and Actor System

7.0 Waste Audit Methodology

8.0 The Survey

9.0 Results

10.0 Conclusions

11.0 Recommendations

12.0 References

13.0 Related Web Sites

1.0 Executive Summary

We examined the waste stream at the Columbia Lake Townhouses to determine if it could be reduced through effective recycling. In addition we collected data to determine whether a composting program would be feasible at the townhouses in the future. We collected our data through administering a survey to each occupied townhouse, resulting in a total of 75 completed surveys; we also conducted 36 waste audits (12 units were audited over 3 non-consecutive weeks). The data was analyzed by making generalizations regarding survey results, correlating various survey questions, and correlating the waste audit data to the survey filled out by the corresponding household.

Through our analysis we found that a large percentage of the residents at the Columbia Lake Townhouses are unclear as to what materials can be recycled within the complex. An additional finding was that the majority of residents are willing to separtate their compostable scraps and take them to a composter located on townhouse property. However, most residents would not be willing to participate in turing the compost. If a composter was to be implemented, its maintenance could be a responsiblity of the complex superintendent. Our main recommendation is to put stickers on the carts that are located at each of the four recycling stations. These stickers should provide more explicit instructions as to what can be included in each cart, thus minimizing the amount of confusion experienced by townhouse residents.

2.0 Introduction

The purpose of conducting a waste audit is to determine the quantity and composition of waste in a particular waste stream, and based on these results, methods for waste reduction can be developed. In order to obtain resident's attitudes, the waste audits were accompanied by the administration of a survey. Implementation of waste reduction initiatives can result in a number of benefits. Potential benefits include less strain on the natural environment, financial gain, improved public relations, and compliance to proposed waste reduction legislative requirements. This study consists of a description of the study area, methodology, limitations to the study, summary of waste audit results, and recommendations that will reduce the amount of waste currently produced and disposed of from the Columbia Lake Townhouses.

3.0 Background Information

In order to properly develop a detailed waste reduction plan, a lot of background information is required. Therefore, this section is an outline of background information regarding both the evolution of waste audits and waste reduction plans.

Traditionally the solution for disposal of this refuse was to bury it in landfills. This unsustainable practice led to problems such as air pollution, odors, noise, blowing debris, traffic congestion, and several cases of documented and suspected ground and surface waster contamination. As these negative effects of traditional landfills became more apparent, landfills have been built further and further away from populated areas, and various protective safeguards have been implemented and added to landfill design. Although steps have been taken to improve landfill design and disposal, a number of environmental and political problems still exist, and existing landfills are rapidly being used up and alternatives are not being developed quickly enough to meet disposal needs. To reduce the amount of waste going to landfill it is essential to determine where this waste is coming from and in what quantities.

No previous study had been done regarding the waste stream at the Columbia Lake Townhouses or the efficiency of the recycling program. However, through talking with the housing office we able to acertain that the townhouses were built in 1988 and the recycling program was implemented approximately two years subsequent to its development. The housing office was also able to tell us that 360 people were currently occupying the Columbia Lake Townhouses, but could not inform us about the number of people occupying each unit due to concerns for the safely of people living alone. There are a total of 100 units within the complex but not all units are full at this time. Each unit may contain a maximum of four people and a minimum of one.

Mr. Bill Sherrer provided us with information regarding the bi-weekly pick up of garbage by Big Bear Inc., and the pick up of recycling by the City of Waterloo on Mondays. This information was required for our project in order to determine the most suitable day of the week for conducting our audits, which is Sundays. Although Mr. Sherrer stated that the recycling program has been running well, he feels that there may be room for improvement: increasing frequency that residence dispose of their recycling and garbages, and decreasing contamination of materials in the blue boxes. Mr. Sherrer also stated that his role in the overall waste removal processes is minimal because most responsibility is given to the residents in the complex. Through speaking with Mr. Sherrer we discovered that there had been a previous composting program at the complex. This program was initiated by students living at the townhouses, but was discontinued after the students moved out. Problems were also encountered due to the close proximity of the composter to the townhouses, thus producing a noticable odour and attracting small rodents.

Ms. Patti Cook provided us with background information through past projects, which include "Preliminary Food Waste Audit of Five Food Services Kitchens"(1996), "University of Waterloo- Waste Audit Report"(1994) and "Village I Food Waste Study"(1994). These projects have been extremely helpful in providing a guideline for the most effective way to conduct waste audits by measuring the amount of waste produced by both weight and volume.(See Table 1) The projects also emphasied the importance of well defined objectives and a clear process which we have used as guidelines. Ms. Cook also helped us sort through the actor system of the present recycling program that operates under the Region of Waterloo.

4.0 Research Question:

Our research question is "Can the waste stream at the Columbia Lake Townhouses be reduced through the diversion of waste by composting and recycling?" We examined how the blue box program at the complex is presently operating and compared this to how it could be operating. We also determined how much compostable food waste is being produced and made observations regarding possible reduction options (buying correct amounts of food so there is less waste, making meals collectively rather than several single serving dinners etc.).

Initially we were going to examine the feasibility of implementing a composting program at the townhouses but we decided that it would be most beneficial to determine whether the present recycling program is working to its full potential before implementing another waste reduction program. However, we have included the measurement of compostable food waste in our audits to provide background information so the possibilty of implementing a composting program in the future can be examined.We feel it would be best to have one highly effective program rather than two partially effective ones.

A recycling system is important for increasing sustainable practices in any community. Figure 1. below shows the systems involved in the waste stream at Columbia Lake Townhouses. Proper recycling saves in collection and processing costs which may reduce the number of trips required to pick up recycling. The recycling system is important to sustainability on a broad scale, in that once the residents of the townhouses acquire accurate knowledge on how to recycle properly, they can carry it with them after they leave the complex. It is also possible that much of this knowledge will then influence future roomates, family, and friends creating a snowball effect of recycling. Another way that recycling programs are important to sustainability on a broad scale is that they reduce the need for the extraction of additional raw materials i.e., products from mining, logging, and the demand for water in processing. There is also potential for much of the material currently being thrown out in the garbage to be recycled and returned back to campus and used to nourish the landscapes on campus or at the Columbia Lake Townhouses. It is important to get the most from what we throw out.

Figure 1. Systems Diagram for Columbia Lake Townhouses.

Our vision within the complex is for each unit to reduce the amount of waste they contribute to a landfill by recycling proficiently and the possible implementation of a composting program.. This can only be achieved if waste reduction measures are being practised as well as the efficient operation of the recycling program. A composting program would also be necessary in order to reduce garbage and to reach our vision for the Columbia Lake Townhouses.

The main questions asked involving the reduction of wastes are outlined in this research diagram:

Figure 2. Research Diagram of the Columbia Lake Townhouses

* Click here to see proper recycling guidelines.

5.0 Objectives:

Our objectives are:

6.0 Actors and Actor System

The actors involved in the recycling process and transporting of recycleable materials at Columbia Lake Townhouses are:

Figure 3. Actor System

The provincial government ultimately controls the regulations for garbage and recycling in Ontario and necessary funding for these programs. However, the current Progressive Conservative government in Ontario is dismantling what has been accomplished since 1983 with regards to waste management. Included in amendments to current policies and regulations is the elimination of funding for municipal recycling programs as well as household hazardous waste programs. These changes in funding and the weakening of regulations in this area have the potential to effect the actors involved, which could disrupt the overall system.

Although the Region of Waterloo is responsible for recycling within this jurisdiction, weekly recycling pick-up has been contracted to the City of Waterloo. The University of Waterloo through the employment of Patti Cook, as a Waste Management Co-ordinator and Plant Operations, who oversee waste removal (recycling and garbage) at the Columbia Lake Townhouses, are also key actors. Patti Cook is responsible for all waste removal processes at the university, including C.L.T. Obtaining the 'cheapest' contractors for waste removal and disposal, investigating possible improvements for current waste related programs, ie, efficiency, and participation, are all resposibilities of Patti Cook. The role of plant operations in this system is to ensure the accessibility and availability of all recycling carts. Bill Sherrer, who is the Superintendent of the Columbia Lake Townhouses is the contact person for residents within the complex. Residents of C.L.T. participate in the recycling program and dispose of all waste they produce within their units at the provided locations.

Our key contact people in the administration are Bill Sherrer who is the superintendent of the Columbia Lake Townhouses, Paul Kay who is the undergraduate advisor for Environment and Resource Studies and has a strong background in statistics, and Patricia Cook who is the waste management co-ordinator for the University of Waterloo

7.0 Waste Audit Methodology

Our first step in collecting the necessary data was to examine a layout map of the townhouse complex to determine how the one hundred units were situated (See Layout Map).

Figure 5. Layout Map of the Columbia Lake Townhouses

We found they were arranged in four clusters, two of 24 and two of 26, totaling 100. We elected to focus our attention on one of the four clusters since gathering a representaitive number of samples from the entire complex is not feasible due to the one term time constraint. The cluster, randomly selected, contained 26 units. These 26 units are arranged in four lines, one line of eight and three lines of six. In order to examine a representative number of the units, we audited three randomly selected houses in each of the four lines within the cluster, totaling 12 units. These units were determined through the utilization of the random numbers table. Dr. Kay helped us to determine an appropriate sample size (ie. the number of units we need to sample within the cluster of twenty six units). We determined our sample size of 12 units from a cluster of 26 units by following the hierarchial physical structure of the complex and finding a representative number. He also provided us with a number for the statistical help center located on campus were we were able to determine the methods of doing random sampling.

We conducted our audit of the 12 units once a week, on Sunday, for a total of three weeks. These are the weeks of: January 27- February 2, February 24- March 2, March 3- March 9.

Each of the selected units were asked to keep their garbage and recycling for a period of one week (Monday to Sunday). At which time we collected the garbage and recycling, then completed the data sheet (Table 1), through the use of scales, visual audits, and observation.

While conducting our weekly waste audits at the complex we also completed visual audits of the recycling carts at each of the four recycling stations (See C.L.T. Layout Map for position of recycling stations). This was completed to serve as an additional means of evaluating the recycling system that is currently in place. These estimations were done on Sundays, along with our waste audits since recycling is picked up on Mondays. Our examination of the carts enabled us to determine which carts filled up the quickest, and also how accurately the contents of the carts were sorted. We observed that the carts designated for cardborad and cans filled up the fastest, sometimes reaching an estimated volume of 150%. The fact that some of the carts were overflowing could have detered some of the residents from recycling properly.We used this data to help us determine if there is a need for more carts or if they are being under-utilized, if people are sorting properly, and preparing recycleables properly (crushing cans, flattening boxboard, etc.)

There are three reasons for conducting pre-waste audit activities. First, to become familiar with the study area; second, to determine the categories of waste; and third, to determine any intermittent waste that may affect the validity of the study.

Study Area - In order to properly study the waste stream of the Columbia Lake Townhouses, it was essential to first understand where the waste is produced and where it goes. By examining the waste system presently in place at the Columbia Lake Townhouses and by contacting various actors involved in this system we were able to determine where all waste created eventually ends up.

Visual Pre-Waste Audit - A visual pre-waste audit was conducted at the townhouses for the week of January 20 - January 26, 1997. This exercise included sorting the waste and examining contents of recycling boxes in order to determine the waste classes for the waste audit.

Intermittent Waste - Intermittent wastes are waste that may appear in the waste stream during the audit, but usually do not; or wastes that do not appear in the waste stream during the audit but may appear at another point and time. Intermittent wastes at the Columbia Lake Townhouses were determined through a series of conversations with residents of the twelve randomly selected audit houses. Through our conversations we discovered that excess waste from one of the audit houses during the first week was increased substantially due to hosting a Superbowl party. An additional factor that may have influenced the results we obtained include the fact that one of our audits was conducted the week directly preceding reading week. This could have caused more food waste to be present in the waste stream due to the abundance of food that may have been taken or purchased at home. Also, the number of residents present during the week and especially on week ends may fluctuate which may cause the amount of waste produced to vary accordingly.

The pre-waste audits also helped us to determine the critera for evaluating the recycling program currently in place at the complex. The criteria used to evaluate the present recycling system included:

We measured the amount of waste produced by each household. This provided a baseline for determining the average amount of waste produced per unit. We measured the waste by both weight and volume.

MATERIALS REQUIRED: 6 full front aprons, 6 pairs of rubber gloves, plastic bags and garbage bags for sorting, weighing and disposal purposes, 25 kg scale, a sorting area, 6 pairs of goggles, facial masks to help stop odors, audit recording sheets for each audit house.

For the purposes of this study we used the term waste to include all compostables (organic materials), recyclables and garbage; while garbage alone is considered to be any product that cannot be composted or recycled. Opportunities for reduction are examined for both waste and garbage. The following is a list of steps we used to conduct each waste audit, prior to these steps each household was told to save their recycling and garbage for one week.

1. Pick up garbage and recycling from each of the twelve randomly selected houses, label bags according to households.

2. Lay out drop sheet on ground, gather necessary materials; aprons, goggles, etc.

3. Weigh each bag of garbage and recycling, record on data sheet. The recycling boxes weighed exactly one kilogram each, so 1kg was subtracted from the weight that was recorded on the data sheet, see Table 1.


4. Each household was audited individually; size and volume of the bags were recorded, then emptied one at a time onto the drop sheet.

5. The contents were then seperated into three categories; garbage, compostables and recyclables.

6. Each of the three categories were then weighed and recorded on the data sheet.

7. Observations were made throughout the audit regarding the waste, ie. single serving dinners.

8. Waste materials were then disposed of appropriately, recyclables in the recycling etc.


9. After weighing the box, a visual estimate was made of the volume of cans, paper, glass, plastic, boxboard and cardboard.

10. We also looked for garbage and non-recyclable materials that were included in the blue box.

11. The materials in the blue box were then disposed of appropriately.

12. The audit area was then cleaned and blue boxes were returned to each household.

*The method of documentation and observation during the waste audits was in the form of waste audit data sheets:

Table 1. Waste Audit Data Sheets

Houses: unit
Week: Wt.of waste notes Wt.of rec notes Gen. Notes




Waste: # of bags Zehres/Green Total Wt. Wt.of Gar Wt.of Comp Wt.of Rec




Week Total Wt Vol.of Cans Vol. Paper Vol. Glass Vol Plastics Vol Boxboard # of Cardboard




Final Observations

8.0 The Survey

An additional means of data collection was a survey to determine habits and current knowledge of residents at the Columbia Lake Townhouses. The survey was filled out after our audits were completed to ensure that the participants in our study remained unaware of its purpose, thus allowing us to obtain unbiased results. Our overall goal was to have every occupied unit fill out a survey, however, we recognize that this was not possible due to absenteeism, or lack of participation (don't want to do it, don't have time) by the residents, see Section 7.4.

The survey was administered by members of our group to every occupied unit in the complex. Units where there was no one home were noted and revisited at a later date. We introduced ourselves as students of the University of Waterloo and explained that we were doing a waste audit at the complex and would appreciate their cooperation in completing a survey. At this point we also stressed that we would answer any additional questions regarding our study. Once the survey had been completed the resident of the unit was again asked if there were any questions regarding the survey or our study. The unit was then provided with Susan Sykes' phone number so they could contact her if they had any ethical concerns regarding the survey or its administration.

Each survey is coded for confidentiality reasons. The master list will not be available to anyone outside of our group. Each survey was filled in it's entirety, therefore the following percentages are representative of the entire survey.

1) Are you unclear as to what matierials can be included in your recycling box at the Columbia Lake Townhouses?

2. Do you know what a composting program is?

3. Do you think a composting program at C.L.T. is feasible?

If so which of the following activities would you be willing to participate in.

4) How many times a week do you empty your recycling box?

5) Do you separtate recyclables in all rooms of your household (bathroom, bedrooms)?

6) Do you feel that recycling is:

7) Do you encourage others within the complex to recycle?

8) How often do you put recyclables in with your garbage?

9) How do you make meals?

10) Do you: buy products in bulk 55% buy products in small quantities 45%

11) Which of the following cannot be recycled at the Columbia Lake Townhouses?

12) Do you have an information sheet that directs you as to which materials can be recycled at the Columbia Lake Townhouse Complex?

Questions in our survey explored the attitudes and knowledge of Columbia Lake Townhouse residents with regards to varying methods of reducing the waste stream within the complex. These methods include recycling, composting, and reducing.

We correlated several of the survey questions in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how the answers to different questions were reflective of one another. For example we examined how their answer to question #1 "Are you clear as to what materials can be included in your blue box at the Columiba Lake Townhouses?", relates to the answer given in question #11 "Which of the following cannot be recycled at the Columia Lake Townhouses.... #1 plastic, boxboard, #4 plastic, or cardboard?". This enabled us to determine if people were actually clear on the proper recycling procedures or if they just thought they knew what to do!

Some of the survey questions were designed to aid in the development of our recommendations. For example, by collecting information regarding the willingness of residents to participate in a composting program, we could better understand if the implemention of a composting program would be feasible. In addition, some of the survey questions were directed towards the amount of education that residents have (or feel they have) regarding the recycling program at the complex. This enabled us to determine whether or not the current form(s) of education (pamphlets available for each unit) were appropriate and effective in promoting accurate recycling procedures.

Questions pertaining to purchasing habits (bulk, or small quantities) and food prepartation within the unit (collectively, single serving dinners, order out, individual meals), helped us determine how individual habits influenced the efficiency of waste reduction programs. For example, buying in bulk and the collective preparation of meals could help to reduce the waste stream at the townhouses.

The survey questions were also developed so that we could compare the results obtained from the twelve units audited, to their completed surveys. This allowed us to make comparisions between their actual bahaviour and the behaviour and attitudes that were refelcted in their survey. For example, in question #8 "How often do you put recyclables in with your garbage?", participants may indicate that they 'never' do, however, results from auditing their unit may show otherwise i.e., recyclables are found in with their garbage.

The following are limitations to the surveys, waste audits and our overall project technique:

The following are possible sources of error within our surveys, waste audits, and overall project technique:

9.0 Results

The results in this section are discussed in terms of mass rather than volume, because the mass measurements are more precise. The volume measurements lack precision because they are visually estimated, and due to compaction it is difficult to accurately determine the volumes of the waste. However, volume measurements will arise whenever relevant in the study. The thirty-six waste audits complied from auditing twelve units over three non consecutive weeks produced approximately.

We have completed all 36 waste audits from the 12 randomly selected units. These audits were completed over three non-consecutive weeks. Figure 5 depicts the overall findings of these audits for all three weeks. When looking at the complete waste stream our results show that only fifty percent can be classified as garbage under our definition of garbage. While the other half consists of fourty percent compostable materials and ten percent of materials that are potentially recycleable.

Therefore, under the present waste disposal systems available to residents at the complex, the waste stream can only be reduced by ten percent. This is due to the fact that there is currently only one option available for students to reduce their waste (recycling). Our results indicate that a composting program may be feasible due to the significant volume of compostable materials within the garbages of the 12 audit houses. Although forty percent is significant, it does not guarentee the willingness of the residents to participate or indicate the successful implementation of a composting program. Section 9.2-Survey Results, examines the attitudes residents have towards implementing a composting program in the future.

Our waste audit results indicate that if a composting program was to be implemented and if residents used the current recycling program to its full capability, there is potential for the waste stream to be cut in half.

Figure 5. Breakdown of Waste Totals From Audit Houses

Of the entire townhouse population, we have 75 completed surveys, 10 units were unoccupied, 3 houses did not want to partake in the survey, and the remaining 12 surveys were not completed because members of the household were unavailable on the two occasions we went to their house.

1. 45% of people are unclear about the material that can be recycled at the Columbia Lake Townhouses. This is significant because the recycling program has been operating for approximately seven years. It is also interesting considering all residents were to have received an information sheet regarding how and what to recycle at CLT.

2. 91% knew what a composting program was. This could be due to increased awareness of environmental initiatives within this age group and the University.

3. Most people (although not by a significant margin, "37%") thought a composting program would probably be feasible at the Townhouses. 44% of resident surveyed were positive about the feasibility of implementing a composting program. 28% of residents surveyed believed a composting program at CLT would not be feasible. 28% were undecided regarding this issue. A) Most people 52% would not be willing to turn the compost. B) 62% of residents surveyed were willing to separate compost waste in their house. C) 60% of residents surveyed would be willing to take their compost to the compost bin. People may have a negative perception of what maintaining a composting program involves ie. some may think that it is gross, time consuming, and not their responsibility.

4. Over half of the residents surveyed emptied the recycling in their unit once a week.

5. Over half of the residents sometimes separate recyclables in all rooms of their household. It is significant that 35% never separate recyclables in every room. This could be linked to the fact that the recycling boxes are located downstairs while bedrooms and bathrooms are upstairs.

6. 91% of residents surveyed felt recycling is important to very important.

7. 57% of residents surveyed sometimes encourage others in the complex to recycle. This could be linked to the idea that recycling has become a norm and it has become socially unacceptable if you do not recycle.

8. 64% of people surveyed only put recyclables in the garbage by accident. 20% of the people surveyed put recyclables into the garbage when the recycling bin is full. This shows that some people are simply to lazy to clean their recycling bin when it is full.

9. 65% of residents make meals individually. This can be linked to students having different schedules, which make it difficult to cook collectively. It is probable that people in the townhouses have different eating habits and styles concerning what foods to eat. For example, some people, for religious reasons will not eat meat on Fridays.

10. 55% of residents buy products in bulk. The main reason for this is probably the cost savings in buying products in large quantities.

11. 76% of people were unclear as to what could be recycled at the Townhouses. They did not know what the numbers found on the bottom of plastic products represented or the difference between boxboard and cardboard. Another problem discovered was the lack of clarity of labels present at the recycling stations.

12. At the beginning of the school year residents were handed an information sheet that directed them as to what products can be recycled and not. We discovered that only 67% of the residents had this information sheet. Picking up this sheet was optional and we believe that many of the residents were not aware of this sheet's existence. Unfortunately 58% of the people with the information sheet do not refer to it. We believe that the residents of the Townhouses are overconfident in their knowledge concerning recycling. Others may have simply lost the paper, or they have thrown it away. People may have it posted in an inaccessible area of the house. Unfortunately some people simply do not take the time and do not consider it important.

Question 1 and 11

Of the people who answered no to question 1 (believed that they knew what to include in their blue box), 80% got question 11 (tested people on their knowledge of recyclable products) wrong. This proves that residents thought they knew what could be recycled at Columbia Lake Townhouses; however, their answer to question 11 proved otherwise.

Question 1 and 12

Of the people that answered yes (unclear) to question 1 (they were unclear about what to include in their blue box) 85% of them did not have an information sheet to refer to. Therefore the residents at Columbia Lake Townhouses need a more affective way of obtaining information concerning recyclable materials. The voluntary pick-up of information sheets during registration does not seem to be effective.

Question 5 and 6

68% of participants in the survey thought recycling was important but 91% do not always separate recyclables in all rooms of the household. This can be linked to the fact that the recycling boxes are on the main floor while the bedrooms are upstairs and the people may simply be too lazy to walk down the stairs to recycle their materials. A possible solution is the distribution of desktop recycling units during registration week. These can be obtained from the big cans used up by food services.

Question 4 and 8

Of the people who put recycling in their garbage because their recycling box is full, 95% of them only empty their recycling once or less per week. By simply increasing the number of times a household empties their recycling bin this problem can be eliminated.

Through the waste audits that were conducted on the 12 units at C.L.T. and the corresponding surveys from those 12 units a correlation was made between survey answers and waste audit results. In order to compare the survey questions and the waste audits to come up with a correlation, we devised a scale in order to compare the various amounts of recycling that was found in the garbage.

Less then 1 kg of recycling was considered Not Significant (N.S.)

1- 2 kg of recycling was considered Fairly Significant (F.S.)

2-3 kg and over was considered Significant (S)

We did not compare all 12 survey questions to every aspect of the audit as there were not necessarily correlations present.

Q1. The first survey question asked residents whether they understood what was supposed to be included in their recycling box. Of the people that said they were NOT clear as to what was recyclable, 57% of them had significant amounts of recyclables mixed in with their garbage. This may be due to several factors, inadequate information, laziness, or no care for the recycling program.

Q5. When residents were asked how often they separate their bedroom and bathroom recyclables more then 90% responded only sometimes or never. Of those respondents over 40% had a significant amount of recyclables mixed in with their garbage.

Q6. Almost all residents, 91%, felt that recycling was either important or very important. Still there was 45% of the residents who had recyclables in their garbage. This seems contradictory in theory, if the residents feel strongly about recycling why are they still putting recyclables in the garbage.

Q11. Of the residents who believed that they were quite clear on what was to go in the recycling box, 86% of them got the wrong answer when given a choice of four recyclable items.

Q12. When asked if they had an information sheet to guide them in proper recycling procedures, those who were said they were clear and did indeed have a sheet to guide them were still producing fairly significant and significant amounts of garbage.

10.0 Conclusions

It is evident that a tremendous amount of waste is produced by the Columbia Lake Townhouses can be reduced in a practical and cost effective manner. Our waste audits showed a only 50% of the waste going to landfill was actually garbage, the other 50% could be recycled and/or composted. Our surveys showed that people thought recycling was important, however their lack of understanding and knowledge made them unclear as to what exactly could be placed in the recycling bins at C.L.T. By correlating the waste audits and their corresponding surveys it was discovered that although many residents felt they were clear on what and how to recycle, results form audits and surveys proved otherwise.

In summary, a properly conducted waste audit can reveal a lot of valuable information regarding a studied waste stream, and based on such results, a number of potentially beneficial waste reduction initiatives can be developed. Hopefully, the recommendations provided in this study and other similar follow-up studies will help reduce the waste stream of the Columbia Lake Townhouses

11.0 Recommendations

There are a number of different materials that can be recycled at the Columbia Lake Townhouses that are not accepted in the recycling programs of other areas. The townhouses should continue their participation in the recycling program . However, in order to use the program to its maximum potential the following recommendations should be examined:

After collecting and analyzing our data we have developed a series of recommendations that we feel will better the recycling program at Columbia Lake Townhouses, and further implement our research question which is "reduce the waste stream at Columbia Lake."

We have concluded that the knowledge level of the residences is very low, when it comes to recycling. Therefore, we feel that education about proper recycling is extremely important. There are information sheets available at the main office within the Columbia Lake Townhouses, but they are only taken at will.

We looked at the amount of compostables within the garbage of each audit household. As well, in our survey we asked composting specific questions. Due to the large amounts of composting found in our waste audits, we feel that a composting program at Columbia Lake Townhouses is needed. In our survey just over fifty percent of the residents believed that a composting program is feasible; further in our survey we found that sixty-two percent of residences were willing to separate compost wastes in their household, and sixty percent of residences surveyed would be willing to take their compost to the compost bin. Yet, fifty-two percent would not be willing to turn the compost.

In our survey we had questions pertaining to when recyclables were thrown in the garbage, twenty percent of housholds answered only if the recycling box was full. As well, ninety percent do not separate recyclables in all rooms of the house.

When completeing our visual audits of the recycling carts at the four recycling stations, we found that the box board carts were overflowing at approximately 150 %.

12.0 References

Carrell, Suzanne. Preliminary Food Waste Audits of Five Food Services Kitchens, March 1996. Department of Waste Management, University of Waterloo.

Cook, Patti, S. Carrell. University of Waterloo: Waste Audit Report, 1994.

Wright, Brad, A Waste Reduction Workplan for the Waterlot Restaurant. Faculty of Environmental Studies, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, Winter 1997. ERS 317 Course Readings.

13.0 Related Web Sites

Acting For a Better World - "Reduce Your Impact"

Commonly Recycled Materials

Recyclers World

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Last Updated: April 14, 1997.