Did you know that November 15 was America Recycles Day?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “in 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons (U.S. short tons…) of trash and recycled & composted over 87 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34 percent recycling rate…. On average, Americans recycled and composted 1.5 pounds out of our individual waste generation rate of 4.4 pounds per person per day.”
As luck would have it, one of the events during Alexandria’s International Education Week was a trash audit on November 16. Following the “Think Globally, Act Locally” theme, the Campus Green Club led the audit to highlight the local impact of what goes into the trash and recycle bins.
The material discovered in the bins reflected the international nature of the Campus including one intact fish head.
Over an hour around lunchtime, about 50 faculty members, staff and students sorted through multiple trash and recycling bins and, after sorting through over 600 individual pieces of material, discovered that about 35 percent of what was in the trash bin could be recycled and nearly 50 percent of what was in the recycling bin should be in the trash. Recyclable materials in the trash included plastic, glass and metal containers. From a volume perspective, the participants emptied about 10 recycling bins and five trash bins and were able to fit all the trash into one, 13-gallon bin, and all of the recyclables into one and a half 20-gallon recycling bins.
Also, did you know that NOVA has single-stream recycling at all six campuses?
This means that you can put any recyclable material into any recycling bin, identified by the college recycling graphic. Recyclable materials include any paper or cardboard, most plastics, any metal, any glass, and wax paper cartons (milk or juice).
Items that should go into a trash bin are plastic bags, plastic wrap, straws, chip or snack bags, the lined foil food wrappers, food, any food-soiled material.
Over the summer, additional trash and recycling bins were placed throughout the buildings and classrooms to make disposal easier.
Once the material is in the respective bins, NOVA’s diligent housekeeping crew empties the bins into the appropriate external dumpster. From there, the waste hauler takes it to its next destination – recycling goes to a sorting facility, waste goes to a waste-to-energy incinerating plant.
You can read more information online. If you are interested in doing a waste audit in your department or on your campus, do not hesitate to contact Rob Johnson, NOVA’s director of sustainability.