Students throwing fewer recyclables away at UBCO

Waste audit shows fewer disposable drinking cups and paper are being tossed and more plastic is being recycled.

UBCO students are recycling more and throwing away fewer coffee cups and paper.

That’s the finding a new waste audit done on the university’s campus recently.

Student volunteers sorted through two days worth of trash from every major building on UBC’s Okanagan campus as part of the waste audit.

The audit, which was held in the courtyard assesses the amount and types of items being put in the garbage that could otherwise be recycled, refunded or composted.

And UBCO officials say the results from are promising.

“This year’s audit found that there is a drop in the amount of disposable cups (three per cent less) and paper (four per cent less) in the trash since the 2010 audit, as well as less trash overall from previous years,” said the university in a news release issue Monday.

The results also showed that the amount of plastics in the recycling continues to increase – up 10 per cent since 2010 – and so has the amount of compostable material due to the increase in biodegradable food containers and paper towels being composted.

Al King, UBC’s manager of maintenance and grounds, said the results are trending in the right direction.

“Our campus continues to improve its waste management efforts,” said King.

“In 2010, the entire grass area of the courtyard was full of garbage and this year only one-fifth of the courtyard was full.”

This event—held every two years—helps UBCO get an idea of changes in the campus community’s behaviour over time and provides insights for better waste management going forward.

The 2012 campus waste audit coincided with Okanagan College’s waste audit, showing a collective commitment to sustainability, student involvement, education, and organized efforts to divert waste from the landfill and reduce the post-secondary environmental footprint in Kelowna.

Okanagan College’s results were not immediately known.

The audit is led as a collaborative project by King and Lindsay Eason, vice-president of GreenStep, in partnership with the Okanagan Sustainability Office.