Waste auditing

I’m working this week on an environmental consulting project where we are performing a waste audit at a local dump Transfer Station. The whole project has been mind-boggling, especially when I begin to think how this is but a miniscule amount of the waste collected today worldwide.

This video shows what a waste audit looks like, friends.

But wait… what’s a waste audit? (Thank you, MLB, for the link).

Well, pretty much what it sounds like… we sort through all the trash picked up by the garbage trucks and sort it. There’s a bunch of bins for different varieties of recyclable plastic & paper, tissues, diapers, food, food wrappers, aluminum cans, scrap metal, textiles, carpet and so on. It’s one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done.

Every. Single. Bag. is a new adventure.

Our goal is to see what’s showing up in the garbage that can be diverted. The results of this project will identify the most common items that show up in the garbage so that education programs can be created and/or modified to improve waste diversion.

On Monday we found 46 needles in different bags throughout our pile of trash; Tuesday and Wednesday were diapers beyond what you can imagine; today was a LOT of building materials and textiles. The amount of plastic bags and food wrappers is mind-boggling… Diapers and food waste are by far the two most common materials by weight in our pile of garbage.

The pile in this video taken this afternoon is roughly 1700 kilos (~3,750 lbs)… and that’s more than triple what was expected from the collection area. This is a sample covering about 80 households on Thursday, March 16, 2017. The pile covers only single-family households in a small area of metro Vancouver for one day. You can extrapolate out to 7 billion people…

Please divert waste. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… we can all make a difference, whether it’s buying reusable water containers, purchasing in bulk, making the effort to find out how/where to recycle materials. Future generations of sentient beings thank you.

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