By Sarah Vetter
This week, we managed to conduct our first waste audit. We had originally planned it for last quarter, but our schedules filled up quickly with the North Campus waste survey and general work as we drew closer to finals. At the same time, our stakeholder became especially busy as he and his wife had a baby!
The girls were excited to get their gloves dirty and start sorting through waste. This was an opportunity to see how well we had documented the material types (i.e. compost, recycling, trash) from our Winter Quarter waste survey of North campus.
With our audit experience, we gained an important piece of insight: moist paper is not recyclable. The big issue with moist paper is that it can grow mold. If the paper can dry quickly enough, it is fine to put in the recycling bin. This problem is exasperated on rainy days when entire bins can fill with rainfall, contaminating the captured paper products. Next time, think twice before putting a half-full soda can in the recycling!
We also had some interesting finds in the process: a long ream of silvery sheer cloth in the recycling bin and two ink cartridges. While the cloth was rather pretty, it had to go to the trash as it cannot be recycled (at least at the recycling facility UCLA works with). Ink cartridges can be recycled, but as e-waste only. UCLA has special pick up stations for e-waste.
Overall, this waste audit was a nice way to learn more about recycling and confirm some of our suspicions concerning the waste stream in Macgowan Hall from our Winter Quarter waste survey. We suspected that because many of the bins in that area have illegible lids (to distinguish recycling and trash stations), the material composition of most bins would be similar -- and they were. We hope experimenting with clearer signage this quarter will help better organize the area’s waste flow.
Image courtesy of http://www.onlinefast.org/wwutoday/news/6414