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Monday, June 24, 2024
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UB conducts first wide-scale waste audit in 10 years

The data will be used to find solutions to reduce on-campus waste

<p>Recycling collected from UB's campuses is sorted on South Campus, compacted into large bales and sold to a recycling mill. From there, the bales are broken down, sold to factories and made into new products.</p>

Recycling collected from UB's campuses is sorted on South Campus, compacted into large bales and sold to a recycling mill. From there, the bales are broken down, sold to factories and made into new products.

Over a ton of waste was hauled from locations across UB in September by the Office of Sustainability, and brought to the Student Union Courtyard to be meticulously sorted and cataloged as part of a trash and recycling audit.

Bags of trash and recycling were taken from receptacles at athletic facilities, administrative offices, food courts, resident halls, and academic rooms at the North, South, and Downtown campuses and analyzed by a team of volunteers assisting the Office of Sustainability.

The bags were opened and all of the contents were meticulously entered into a database, viewable here. The results are being used to inform UB’s efforts to find solutions to contamination, encourage proper recycling and educate people on campus. 

“If we see that there are a lot of disposable coffee lids in the recycling, can we begin a practice where lids are only available upon request?” Sustainability Education Manager Erin Moscati said. “It’ll be practical suggestions like that.”

A waste audit on this scale was last undertaken 10 years ago, according to Moscati.

At least 28 samples were taken from over a dozen buildings and entered into an excel database.

Of the 2,140 pounds of waste collected, 1,569.5 pounds were successfully audited. The audit process noted where the waste was from, what type the waste was (cardboard, plastic, etc.), and how much it weighed.

The most amount of material was taken from South Campus, with 212 pounds of trash and 207 pounds of recycling. The least amount was collected from the administrative offices in Crofts Hall, which clocked 58.5 pounds of trash and 12.5 pounds of recycling.

The database also details medical waste being found in the garbage and recycling at the Jacobs School of Medicine, including a “small blood sample” and “several pipettes, syringe wrappers.”

The database says that personnel from UB’s Office of Environment, Health, and Safety stopped by and were “concerned.” They asked why there were no safety glasses or puncture-proof gloves, put the entire bag where the items were found into residue, and were not sorted due to safety risk.

Medical “clean waste” should be disposed of outside of normal trash and recycling streams, the database notes.

Dominick Matarese is the senior features editor and can be reached at dominick.matarese@ubspectrum.com  


DOMINICK MATARESE
dominick-matarese.jpg

Dominick Matarese is the Senior Features Editor at the Spectrum. He enjoys writing about interesting people, places, and things. In addition to running an independent blog, he has worked worked with the Owego Pennysaver, BROOME Magazine, the Fulcrum Newspaper, and Festisia. He is passionate about music journalism and can be found enjoying live music most weekends. 

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