Monday, January 18, 2010

What's in Our Trash?


The Office of Sustainability tried to answer that question during the recent waste audit conducted on November 30.  A waste audit is required by the state every five years and is a sample assessment to approximate a day’s worth of garbage at UIC.  This particular time the garbage produced by the College of Pharmacy and University Hall was the sample used.  These buildings were chosen because they've been sampled in the past, so we can have some longitudinal data to analyze. 

So what was found in the garbage?  Some of the more unusual items found were an unopened box of needles and plastic pipettes tips - both should not have been thrown in the normal trash!  Along with the unusual items were some that are all too commonly found in the trash: a total of 365 pounds of material that could have been easily recycled.  With the total weight of the trash being 931 pounds, that’s over 45% of the waste that could have been diverted from a landfill and recycled. We should point out that this data reflects the final results of the audit, slightly different from what was reported in the recent UIC News article. Another 33% of the waste was primarily disposable plates, cups and plastic ware.

Does the amount of recyclable material found in the trash surprise you?  What do you think should be done to lower this number? How could people reduce the amount of disposable foodware they use?

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