On October 9th, we had our 10th annual Trash Bash Waste Sort in the IDX Student Center at Champlain College. The Center for Service & Sustainability along with our Eco-Reps team sorted through collected samples from the Champlain bookstore, Eats, and Photo Lab. In total, we acquired 64.2 pounds of trash from these locations.
We sorted trash into recyclables, food waste/liquids (compost), batteries (e-waste), and single-use coffee cups. We found that roughly 41.4% of items (by weight) placed into the trash were not trash items. 28.6% of the waste was compostable, 8.1% of the waste was recyclable, and 4.7% of waste was single-use coffee cups. We measured that roughly 49.8% of items in the trash were actual trash that could not be separated into the other categories. Additionally, we found no e-waste or usable items in our trash samples. Our separate categories do not add up to 100%, and we recognize there may have been a miscalculation in weighing our samples.
We have a few general observations about the contents of the trash samples. There was a rather large increase in the amount of single-use coffee cups placed in the trash, and it was actually our largest collection of single-use coffee cups from our Trash Bash events ever. Additionally, many of the items within our food waste/liquids category were compostable products that are typically found at EATS, our dining option available at CCM. Lastly, we found many of the “boat” containers that hold food products thrown into our trash samples along with the small, condiment cups. The “boat” containers are compostable products, while the condiment cups are not. We recommend finding a compostable option for the condiment cups so that the entire “boat” can be thrown into compost bins more easily.
Our Trash Bash 2019 has shown us that nearly half the items placed in the trash at Champlain College is actually not trash waste. Our campus community is placing about 50% of their recyclable, compostable, or single-use materials in trash bins from around campus. While there was small improvement from last year, we can still do more to encourage personal accountability in waste reduction and sorting among our students, staff, and faculty at Champlain College.
Written by Joel Ontiveros UVM HESA ’21