With people around the globe celebrating Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22, Brock University is sharing the results of its most recent waste audit, which demonstrates the University’s actions and support towards a more sustainable environment.
The purpose of the 2019 Brock University Waste Audit is to identify, quantify and analyze the composition of the waste stream to ensure compliance with the requirements outlined by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) under Ontario Regulations 102/94 and 103/94, and serves to identify additional opportunities for waste reduction and diversion, as well as potential cost savings.
The University has been conducting these waste audits and reduction plans since 2010, with results publicly shared on the Sustainability at Brock website. The 2019 waste audit took place over the period of eight days in October 2019 as Brock retained the services of Waste Reduction Group Inc. to conduct a solid nonhazardous waste audit at its Sir Isaac Brock Way campus location.
This audit consisted of 24/7 samples of trash and recyclables that were collected from 26 different buildings. Some of the positive takeaways from the 2019 results include:
- Waste diversion rate of 69.5 per cent (nearly 10 per cent higher than the provincial objective)
- Approximately 1688.9 tonnes of waste materials diverted total
- Capture rate of all recyclables on campus of approximately 78 per cent
- 11 of 20 divertible materials had a 100 per cent capture rate
While the University shows many positive numbers and improvements in the 2019 waste audit results, the audit also details areas the University can improve on, which includes:
- Capture rate of coffee cups at 2.7 per cent, representing the only recyclable item that had a capture rate lower than 64 per cent
- Contamination rate of recycling sample taken was 55.8 per cent
- Organic waste represented largest percentage of solid waste material disposed to landfill at 22.5 per cent
- 5 of the top 8 waste generating buildings on campus were residences
The most recent results also demonstrate a number of recommendations and potential pathways forward that the University will assess. For example, while there is already an organics program on campus, the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) emphasizes the benefit of looking at ways to focus more attention on organics diversion in order to capture more of the organic materials that are currently ending up in the garbage stream.
While Brock continues to look for ways to continue making positive steps towards a more sustainable environment, ESRC encourages the University community to be mindful that small, individual actions can make a big difference. Here are some of their recommendations:
- Purchase and use reusable and/or recyclable materials when possible (i.e. using a reusable water bottle and coffee mug)
- Carefully read all signs on garbage and recycling bins to properly dispose of waste as this can significantly reduce contamination rates
- Participate in events hosted by Sustainability at Brock, which highlight the impact our decisions make and advocates for positive change
- Make pledges to be more environmentally friendly (as seen on the ESRC Instagram page), to encourage holding oneself more accountable and encourage others to take action
This story was written by Nolan Kelly, a master of Sustainability candidate and research assistant at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.