By George Yang- University Apartment
As more and more people mobilize to the library, we know it’s the time of the season when finals are coming up and our project is almost half way through!
We first have a few updates. While we are still waiting on the December report, we just received the recycling reports for January and February from Athens via our stakeholder Ken. Compared to previous ones, the new reports were not complete and could not represent the real diversion rate. The total tonnage for each of the two months on the reports was only 15% of the trash hauled in October and November. Moreover, with the much smaller sample size, the diversion rates for the first two months of 2015 were 76% and 70%, respectively, or around 30% higher than those of October and November. In this case, the December report becomes crucial for us to understand the huge swings in diversion rate. One possible explanation for now is that the waste total compiled in the report was mainly from the recycling bins, and the high percentage of recyclable waste skewed the diversion rate significantly. Both our team and Ken are asking Athens if they used different metrics for these 2015 reports. On the other hand, staff members at University Village have been measuring the waste at different enclosures with newly purchased scales for over two weeks and the result will come out by the end of this week. So with our own data on individual enclosures and Athens’ reports on a grander scale, we will be able to figure out the inconsistency in diversion rate.
Although our project was the only one that was not on campus, with great support from Ken, we didn’t run into huge challenges this past quarter. In fact, the University Village administration has hired full-time employees to work on waste management. Besides, the community was built in different phases, making it easier for our team to implement different conditions. We drafted four conditions along with a control group with no change. Currently, among the four conditions (recycle bins, new signage, door hangers and reminder emails), recycle bins are already in place, while the other three will be completed by the end of this week. We will implement all the conditions starting the first week of spring quarter. Then after three weeks, we will combine different conditions by adding conditions to existing ones. By the end of the week six, we will have some data to work with and will be able to come up with some preliminary results and suggestions. After that, for the last three weeks, we will be going full throttle to test out how much the community can recycle. We can’t wait to see the diversion rate consistently remain above 70%!
Over this quarter, we came across several new ideas that future teams can pursue. First, at midterm presentation, Nurit suggested that a move-out recycling program could drive up the diversion rates during the moving seasons. Also, during our visit to the MRF, we learnt that separating food waste from recyclables would give a huge boost to diversion rate.
Fresh off the midterm presentations, I’m proud of all teams’ work for the first half and looking forward to another quarter of sustain-abling!