Contamination Audit Data gets interns thinking!
Student Written By: Ruby, OT Intern
“On December 6, 2017 we did our second contamination audit of the year. This one was at the lower campus instead at the upper campus like the other one was. We started off by splitting up into teams, and then splitting up all the brute stations on campus. My team of four split up and me and my partner grabbed our bin bags from the brute stations. The custodian had already grabbed the recycling, though, so we didn’t manage to snag that bag this time, and went back to the sorting area, compost bag in hand.
After waiting around for everyone and their bags to get there, we spread out some tarps and set out our bags, and began to sort them. We went bag by bag in 3 sections that correlated to the 3 bins. My team was compost, which while being the smallest, is also one of the nastiest, as it often has moldy food and wet things. We went through and put the compost in a smaller compost bin, the trash in a landfill bin, and the recycling in the recycling bin. We compared the weights of the recycling and trash against the total bin to see what percent the compost bin was contaminated.
Most of the data was similar to last time, except that the compost was a little bit more contaminated and the trash was surprisingly a lot less contaminated.”
In the beginning before the 3-Bin System was implemented, audit data showed that the landfill bin was 91% contaminated. Every audit post implementation has shown Landfill contamination around 40%. Usually, the landfill is not something we worry about too often, since it is recommended that if “you don’t know where the trash goes” to put it in the bin that contamination will cause the least effect (the landfill bin). Seeing the number drop to 16% was not something our team was expecting.
We hypothesis that this might mean that our Teacher Campaign may actually have been effective, given that more bins were available to audit after they were properly brought to the station points. The increase in contamination of the recycling bin, and major decrease in the contamination of the landfill bin leaves us thinking that more people are trying to participate in the system, but may just not fully know how.
We look forward to more audits throughout the year to better understand the waste system at Tech and what we can do to make improvements!
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