Sorting through the University’s garbage can be a little disheartening, says Taylor Purdy.
A master’s student of environmental engineering, she combed through a pile of trash Friday outside the maintenance compound on Union Avenue, conducting an audit of the waste produced on campus.
“At least half of this could have been recycled,” Purdy said. “It’s especially sad because this pile comes from the Centre for Engineering Innovation, a LEED-certified building where we are not recycling like we could be.”
Purdy and her sister Morgan—a fourth-year student in the concurrent French and education program—sorted the waste materials by type. In addition to garbage that properly is headed for a landfill, they identified plastic and paper recyclables, as well as organic waste that could be composted.
“So much of this is plastic water bottles,” said Purdy. “We need to do a better job of educating people about the alternatives.”
It’s a challenge grounds supervisor Garry Moore says he welcomes.
“It all comes down to education,” he said. “We are a lot better than we were a few years ago in terms of what we’re sending to landfill, and there is still plenty of opportunity to improve.”
He points out that the waste collection company employed by the University provides a secondary sort that catches between 15 and 20 per cent of potential recyclables. Moore said he is looking forward to receiving Purdy’s report on the audit, which will include recommendations for reducing the volume of garbage.
“We are much better equipped than we were just a few years ago to increase our diversion,” he said. “There is a marketable amount of material in the garbage stream that can be recycled.”