The university is moving toward conducting annual waste audits to help identify ways of improving the waste and recycling system.
Twice a year since 2008, Augustana students undertake a waste audit to learn how well their recycling and waste diversion systems are performing. They sort through 24 hours of waste and one week's worth of recycling to determine how many recyclables are incorrectly disposed and how much organic waste could be potentially composted. Consistent monitoring helps the administration understand how to best improve the recycling systems.
Students are recruited through a Community Service-Learning course. Some are involved directly in the waste sort while others are dedicated to educating the campus community about recycling. In 2010, their efforts contributed toward a 53 per cent improvement in Augustana's waste diversion rate.
The first audit was conducted in 2005 by hired experts. Since then, the results have directed many of the innovative waste reduction projects at the university.
- Measured and categorized the streams of waste created on campus
- Reviewed existing recycling programs
- Recommended ways to increase waste diversion
In 2011, the waste sorts for the general campus audit and the Education Building audit were conducted for the first time by students. Participants were recruited, trained and were supervised by an environmental engineering graduate student with expertise in solid waste management. The Education Building audit was conducted by students in the Engineering class on Solid Waste Management.
- Sorted the waste streams
- Calculated the weights and corresponding diversion and capture rates
- Recommended ways for improving organic waste management
- Prepared final presentations for Facilities & Operations staff
This audit focused on quantifying organic waste collected from North Campus' major food service locations: SUB, CAB, Education, HUB, Lister, the Faculty Club, and Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA).
Using campus facilities as living laboratories for students can yield multiple benefits for students and facility managers alike. Through experiential learning opportunities, students gain a more sophisticated understanding of how to apply their knowledge in practical and complex situations. Facility managers, on the other hand, benefit from the creativity, enthusiasm, passion and energy with which our students approach problems.
Did You Know?
Students living in East Campus Village are actively engaged with the waste management process. They are part of a pilot project developing best practices around recycling and composting. A combination of education and social marketing is making big improvements to the process. In 2012-13, residents were responsible for a 15 per cent increase in effective composting practices.