Over three days in September, Victoria University staff and students conducted a waste audit of rubbish from the Pipitea, Te Aro, and Kelburn campuses.
The audit was designed to analyse a day’s worth of waste from each campus to see where improvements can be made in the university’s waste management processes.
VUWSA Wellbeing and Sustainability officer Anya Maule attended the audit, which saw 283kgs of waste from the Kelburn campus being sorted and analysed.
Maule is concerned that approximately 1.4 tonnes of rubbish is sent to the landfill each day from VUW including “environmentally friendly” coffee cups and lids from Vic Books and compostable plant-based smoothie cups from the Lab.
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Maule thinks the system could be improved by installing more glass recycling and compost bins on campus, and said students and cleaners “need to be empowered to recycle responsibly, which comes from good education.”
She also noted that the cleaners at VUW are “some of the lowest paid and overworked staff at the university” and that the university “cannot expect them to become waste experts.”
Greens at Vic co-convener Mona Oliver, who also attended the audit, told Salient she noticed many instances of empty bin liners being thrown away with full ones, which she saw as wasteful as the university spends almost $200 thousand annually on non-biodegradable plastic rubbish bags.
VUWSA’s pending 2017 Wellbeing and Sustainability officer, Beth Paterson, said that in her role next year she hopes to make it “clear from the get-go that Victoria cares” about sustainable waste disposal processes.
Paterson hopes to see a colour-coded bin system that separates all types of recyclables and non-recyclables be implemented on campus, and have volunteers in O-Week to show new students how and where to dispose of rubbish, recyclables, and compostable waste.
The waste audit is an ongoing process, as the university and waste committee are still in the process of analysing the bio-waste disposal and other data collection surveys.