Thanks to the Dal Libraries’ Green Team, four-bin waste containers have been available on all floors of the Killam Library since the fall of 2010. These bins encourage people to separate waste by Paper, Recyclables, Organics and Garbage (“PROG”). Their presence has significantly improved waste placement–previously, people on most floors of the library had little choice but to toss everything into garbage bins.
In March 2011, a student team (pictured above) from ENVS 3502 Environmental Problem Solving II conducted waste audits in the library to analyze compliance levels in the PROG bin systems. The students found that the paper and organics bins were the least contaminated, while recycling and garbage bins showed the greatest levels of contamination from items that did not belong in them, like coffee cups and food. As in the 2010 waste audit, the most commonly misplaced items were disposable coffee cups (these should be placed in the garbage–their cardboard sleeves go in the organics bin).
The students’ recommendations include designing an educational sustainability tour addressing proper waste disposal, putting a waste diversion visual link on the Dal website, adding a fifth bin for liquid waste, and creating more informational signs highlighting where waste items should be placed.