The Buena Vista University Sustainability Task Force held a “waste audit” at the Estelle Siebens Science Center on March 27. The audit is required as part of the process to get the building LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.
The event also kicked off the beginning of BVU’s full-campus recycling program which will start after spring break with team competition from April 10-22.
The waste audit found 135.7 pounds in the trash and 23.9 pounds in the recycling. Of the amount in the trash, 55.8 pounds was recyclable material.
“Our initial goal for a trash to recycling ratio is about 50/50,” says Dr. Jill Rhea, associate professor of communication studies and Task Force chair. “Our numbers actually come pretty close to that if all the recyclables would have been in the recycling,” she adds. “In the future, we hope to reduce our production of waste, in general, and get to a ratio of 25/75 campus-wide.”
“We definitely have a starting point for the kind of education we need about recycling — which is the main point of the waste audit…trying to divert waste out of the waste stream that goes to the landfill,” she says.
“Because the science center is working toward LEED certification, it happened to be the building we audited. However, this is a microcosm of our entire campus; we all need to learn about recycling and reduce the amount of waste we add to the landfill.”
The waste audit was just one project by the Task Force in a broader effort to educate the campus community and the public on the importance of sustainability and being ‘green’ in a variety of ways, says Rhea. “We actually did more than was necessary on the waste audit because we wanted to make it an educational event.”
For the waste audit, students, faculty and staff collected all of the trash and recycling that had accumulated in the science building over the previous week and spread it all out on the ground. They then sorted and weighed the trash, compost, various recyclables and the recyclables that were placed in the trash. Taylor Burgraff and Jacob Pedersen of Alpha Psi Omega, the theatre honorary society, provided comedic narration to help make the audit a fun event. Taylor is a junior history major from Fairmont, Minn. Jacob is a junior music performance and education major from Manson.
Rhea says they have learned that the Buena Vista County Recycling Center has changed the procedure for processing trash and recycled materials. Trash does not get sorted so any recyclable material in the trash goes to the landfill. However, recyclables that come to the Center separate from trash are sorted by categories and sold to various mills for processing.