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Waste collection bin in University Centre

Waste Watchers: Composition and contamination

Waste composition study will provide valuable insights for Zero Waste Plan

March 18, 2024 — 

The Office of Sustainability, in collaboration with Operations and Maintenance, is leading a waste composition study for the week of March 18. A team will be collecting a day’s worth of waste from a variety of high-traffic areas around the Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses and sorting through everything they find in our garbage, recycling and organics bins.

It’s a messy job but an important one. The waste composition study will provide valuable information as we develop a Zero Waste Plan to achieve one of the actions laid out in UM’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). The Zero Waste Plan will lay out goals and actions to reduce the amount of waste we create, reuse and repurpose as much as we can, and recycle and compost most of what’s left to divert it away from the landfill.

This waste composition study will provide a snapshot of all the items we dispose of on campus, helping us to understand how much of our current waste is garbage and how much could be diverted from the landfill through either the recycling or organics streams.

The study will also give us insight into how well we sort our waste into the different streams – garbage, recycling and organics. It’s just as important to correctly sort our garbage as it is to properly sort our recycling and organic waste, since our recycling and compost partners aren’t able to sort through the waste they receive.When there is too much contamination, they send the entire contents to the landfill.

Learning more about the composition and contamination of our waste will help the CAP Waste Working Group identify relevant and impactful initiatives to include in our Zero Waste Plan. In addition, using this waste composition study as a baseline will allow us to measure the success of our plan as we compare the results to future studies.

This waste composition study is a first exciting step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts from our waste. The results and information on the next steps in the development of our Zero Waste Plan will be shared later this year.

We greatly appreciate the support provided by General Services and Caretaking Services during the planning and logistical processes of this study.

If you have any questions about the waste composition study, please direct them to Allison Mac Intyre, Zero Waste Coordinator, at allison [dot] macintyre [at] umanitoba [dot] ca.

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