York students, faculty and staff are doing a great job reducing, reusing and recycling their waste through the ZeroWaste initiative launched earlier this year, says Bob Smith, director of custodial, grounds & Glendon facilities services for Campus Services & Business Operations. “In the four months since York launched its ZeroWaste program more than 12 tonnes of organic waste was collected and diverted from landfill sites,” Smith says.
This week is national Waste Reduction Week and Smith hopes everyone will keep up the good work. “From June 7 to Oct. 7, the ZeroWaste program collected 2,424 kilograms of organics from the collection units in office kitchenettes,” says Smith. “The exterior digesters collected 10,808 kilograms of organics.
Left: This banana peel is headed off to be composted. Getting it ready for its new role is as simple as walking to the communal kitchenette bin.
“That’s at total of 12,504 kilograms, or about 12 and a half metric tonnes, of organic waste that was diverted from area landfills,” says Smith.
You can help the program by doing the following:
- Dispose of your organics into the organic bin located in all kitchenettes.
- Do not put organics in your office waste bin (unless you like fruit flies).
- Keep in mind that your office garbage is not collected, and empty your office recycling and waste bins into centrally located tri-bins.
You can also help the University be successful by making sure that all of your waste is placed in the appropriate tri-bin section:
- newspaper and office paper (not including used paper coffee cups or plates) will go into one section of the tri-bin;
- cans, bottles and other minor plastics, including plastic forks, plastic bags and bottles that have been emptied of any liquid, will go into another section of the tri-bin;
- wrappers and packaging that are soiled with food waste or not recyclable should go into the waste section of the tri-bin;
- all organic waste goes into a separate kitchenette bin or digester.
When ZeroWaste began in June, recycled materials at York’s Keele campus accounted for 59 per cent of the institution’s total waste. The goal for ZeroWaste is to reach 65 per cent by 2013. “This equals more than 200 metric tonnes of diverted waste over a year, which is comparable to stopping 10 large transport trucks fully loaded with waste from heading off to the landfill,” says Smith.
Initiatives such as ZeroWaste also serve as potent instructors into our own habits, says Smith. By making it necessary to walk to communal trash and recycling centres, people learn to pay attention and think about what they are throwing away and about what can be recycled. “It teaches us to become more conscious of the waste we throw out,” says Smith, “and we realize that many items that we would have previously thrown out can actually be recycled.”