Waste Audit of the Campus

by: B.Wright

Course: ERS 317, 1993
Supervisor: Patti Cook


In compliance with legislation on waste reduction, the University coordinated waste audits of eight representative buildings on campus. As part of a third-year waste management course, 49 students undertook the solid waste audit during the months of October and November 1992. The buildings were audited based on their unique characteristics or functions. Each week, the garbage from a building was collected and labelled by custodians as to its origin (ie. office, classroom, cafeteria, etc.). The sample was transported to space delegated for the audit, where it was sorted by students into eight general classes of waste; paper fibres, organics, glass, metal, plastic, composite, hazardous and miscellaneous. These eight classes were further defined to allow the waste to be sorted into 33 different categories. Once sorted, the weight and volume of each waste category was recorded. The overall results of the audit are as follows:
	Largest components of the waste stream by weight:
	1. Compostable food waste  	(16.1%)
	2. Paper hand towels  	(8.5%)
	3. Miscellaneous paper  	(6.6%)

	Largest components of the waste stream by volume:
	1. Film plastic		(18.2%)
	2. Paper hand towels		(15.7%)
	3. Miscellaneous paper	(11.3%)

	Area generating the most waste by weight:
	1. Cafeteria			(26.1%)
	2. Office			(22.8%)
	3. Grounds			(10.6%)

	Area generating the most waste by volume:
	1. Office			(21.5%)
	2. Cafeteria			(14.6%)
	3. Washroom			(14.2%)

The audit identified offices as the largest producers of waste by volume and recyclable paper was identified as the largest component of the office waste stream. Students further audited the recyclable paper to determine which office activities (e.g. photocopying, memo writing, etc.) generate the most recyclable paper waste.

Once the students completed the audit they used the audit data to develop waste reduction workplans for the eight campus buildings. Some innovative suggestions for waste reduction were developed and may be implemented in the future. Students also gained invaluable waste audit knowledge and training.

The overall results of this solid waste audit are being used to develop a Waste Reduction Action Plan for the University of Waterloo Campus. The solid waste audit and the development of an action plan are a proactive response by the University to the passing of Bill 143 (The Waste Management Act.) in the spring of 1992. Under Bill 143, regulations requiring large institutions to perform waste audits and develop workplans will be released in mid 1993.

The provincial government has set the goal of a 50% reduction in solid waste by the year 2000. The objective of the University of Waterloo Waste Reduction Action Plan is to develop and implement waste reduction initiatives to reduce the University's solid waste stream by more than the 50% goal. Student involvement in implementing waste reduction initiatives will be vital if we are to reach this goal and this type of involvement will help the University move toward a system of waste (resource) management that is both ecologically and financially sustainable.

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Last updated: June 20, 1995 jjk