Yale’s Sustainability Service Corps members Maggie Lynn and Jana Lohrova conducted a waste audit of the Divinity School with YDS Sustainability Coordinators on March 30, 2015 to gain a better understanding of what materials could be diverted from the municipal solid waste stream and to determine how well students understand the recycling system. Five bags of trash, three bags of recycling, and one bag of compost were analyzed and separated. The audit measured the weight of each type of waste before and after sorting to quantify how much of the waste in the trash could have been recycled or composted and how much of the recycling should not have been recycled.
The data collected from the audit shows many opportunities for diversion: 26% of the total weight of trash could have been recycled and 40% could have been composted.
In the final report, auditors offered recommendations for students, faculty, and staff to help improve our sustainability:
1. Reduce the use of to-go cups by encouraging the purchase of reusable travel mugs.
2. For events, outline sustainable purchasing and planning practices in order to reduce waste. Items at events should either be compostable or recyclable and disposed of properly.
3. The use of individual plastic water bottle should be discouraged.
4. Styrofoam should be avoided.
5. Improve education on when food containers can and cannot be recycled.
- The golden rule: Less than 5% contamination? Recycle it!
- Pizza boxes can be recycled, but if there is grease on the bottom of the box then rip the top off to recycle, and put greasy bottom in trash
- Dump liquids out of bottles before recycling them
6. Place compostable goods in compost bin! Those items that can be composted include:
- Refectory plates and utensils
- Food waste