One of the goals of the audit, which coincides with America Recycles Day, is to find out what makes up the waste in selected residential and academic/administrative buildings. Results will be released after the event; only then will the targeted buildings be identified.
Another goal is to uncover ways to improve campus recycling efforts and educate the WPI community about waste, according to Liz Tomaszewski, WPI facilities systems manager and sustainability coordinator―and the person who came up with the idea for the event several years ago.
“This is an in-depth evaluation of what constitutes our waste and recycling, sampling six buildings, to learn what we are doing so that we can improve our recycling program,” she says.
Tomaszewski says the identity of the audited buildings is being kept secret to ensure there is no bias. She described the selected buildings simply as typical administrative/academic and residential buildings. She did reveal, however, that previous audits have shown that academic buildings score higher than their residential counterparts, adding that “residential buildings do not recycle well at all.”
The trash sorting and examination will take place in front of Alumni Gym from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Rain date is Monday, Nov. 18.) Tomaszewski is encouraging students and faculty and staff members to demonstrate their commitment and volunteer for the event.
“This is the time to walk the walk. If you are interested in the environment and sustainability, get involved and work with the students to learn and improve,” she says.
Andrea Bourke, a student sustainability coordinator for the Washburn Shops, echoed the importance of volunteers.
“By just donating a couple hours of your day, your contribution as an auditor will help make a difference in revealing how we can reduce our community’s waste output,” says Bourke. She noted that volunteers will be provided with all necessary safety equipment and will be familiarized with procedures at a mandatory safety and protocol training session.
The Waste Stream Audit is sponsored by the Student Green Team, with supplies and assistance provided by WPI’s Department of Facilities. Some of the information the audit seeks to uncover includes the volume of recyclable items being thrown into trash, the number of disposable water bottles being consumed, the amount of waste that is compostable, and which buildings need more recycling resources.
According to its website, America Recycles Day is a program of Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit organization that works with a national network of local groups to build and sustain vibrant communities, reduce waste, and increase recycling. The annual event, says the site, “is a nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.”