On November 15, Trash Talk execs and Adam Chiaravalle of McMaster Facility Services decided to get their hands a little dirty and do an audit of one of McMaster’s new compost bins! We overturned and sorted one almost-full bin, separating the things that belonged from the things that did not. Once we had sifted through everything, the results were pretty surprising.
Between 1/3 and 1/2 of the contents of the bin were garbage and recyclable material. Some of the worst offenders were:
plastic water bottles
plastic take-out containers
coffee cups lids
When a bin is contaminated to this extent, everything gets tossed in the garbage, compostable or not. Sadly, contamination is a significant problem in both McMaster’s compost bins and recycling bins.
Trash Talk wants to understand what prevents proper usage of McMaster’s waste receptacles. Promoting waste diversion involves not only providing a sufficient number of compost and recycling receptacles across campus, but also making sure the system is convenient and easy to understand for users.
In order to combat this challenge, we plan to propose new designs for the sorting labels on waste bins to replace the current This, That and The Other labels. We want a comprehensive, visual guide that makes proper sorting a piece of cake (cake, by the way, would go in the compost). We also plan to undertake a recycling audit in second semester to see if as many misplaced items lurk in campus recycling bins.
The images above show the contents of the compost bin sorted into three piles (in order from left to right): Non-compostable material, potentially compostable material, and compostable material.
Welcome to Trash Talk, a new Public Interest Project Group under OPIRG McMaster. We focus on reducing waste generation on campus through education around proper recycling practices, promoting composting, and raising awareness about the importance of mindful consumption