A waste audit of the Loyola cafeteria shows more than 80 per cent of the garbage could be either recycled or composted.
“In one week they throw out more than 250 garbage bags. And that’s just from one cafeteria,” said Chantal Beaudoin. She is the R4 environmental coordinator and one of the main organizers behind last week’s audit.
The R4 is a working group within Sustainable Concordia concerned with the four R’s – rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle. The 250 garbage bags amount to nearly 850 kgs of trash. Each of the garbage bags were emptied onto a table and sorted into 11 categories ranging from metal to garbage to raw fruits and vegetables. With the help of volunteers, R4 sorted through all of it to find out how much could be either recycled or composted, and how much had to go directly to the dumps.
They found that only 17 per cent of the waste was pure garbage, that 57 per cent was biodegradable (thus possible to compost), and that 26 per cent could have been recycled. Beaudoin said she thought the results were “pretty astounding,” although they had expected to find a large margin of improvement.
The R4 group’s main goal is to put in place a composting system for the university so that much of the waste Concordia now pays to dispose of can instead be transformed into fertile soil on campus. “It takes a little more effort,” Beaudoin said about their composting project. “But in the end Concordia saves.” According to R4’s business plan, the university could save around $4000 a year from on-campus composting. In addition an estimated $10,000 could be used to hire a private contractor to compost more “difficult” waste such as cooked and soiled food instead of sending it to a landfill.
Last year the group did a waste audit of general garbage from both campuses and found that about half the trash could have been either recycled or composted. Beaudoin said this year’s audit would give them a better prediction of how much they can expect to compost once their system is in place, but that the most immediate effect will be on the cafeteria’s recycling system.
“Why is [the cafeteria staff] putting the cardboard boxes in garbage bags?” she asked rhetorically and answered, “because we haven’t given them the infrastructure to recycle.”
R4 composting coordinator Louise H