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Waste Bin Standards Implementation

Dalhousie sends too much waste to the landfill.

Audits show that between 40 and 60 per cent of our garbage could have been composted, recycled or reused.

Since 2013, Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability have worked to find a solution to this and it is explained in a document called Solid Waste Management Plan for Dalhousie University. These standards have been communicated to senior administration and the President’s Advisory Council on Sustainability. Waste Management changes such as this program have been highlighted in Dal News. The objective of the standard is to:

  • Reduce contamination (currently garbage streams are 40-60 percent contaminated)
  • Provide clarity on what goes where
  • Drive material to the Paper, Recyclable, Organics, and Garbage (PROG) sets
  • Save garbage bags, and
  • Meet legislative, policy, and waste management plan requirements

The guidelines provide direction for eleven space types on campus.

The biggest changes have affected staff, faculty and students who kept their own garbage can in their office or under their desk. These bins have been removed, and replaced with a combination recycling tray and small side saddle garbage bin. These bins are no longer emptied by custodians. Every staff and faculty member, student, or visitor is responsible for emptying and sorting their own waste daily.

The changes have also impacted ten other spaces on campus including dorm rooms, common spaces, kitchens, labs etc. Learn more here.

Implementing the change in the waste-bin standard is part of a broader strategy which included the following:

  • Removing 31 dumpsters on Dal’s Halifax campuses and replacing them with trash compactors. Now, instead of paying a private garbage company to come along a few times a week and empty the dumpsters, the university’s own facilities staff will transport the garbage back to a warehouse along with all the other streams of waste(organics, paper/cardboard and recyclables). There, one of the new compactors will compress the garbage before it gets picked up and sent to the landfill. The other will be used to compact paper and cardboard.
  • Implementing new battery recycling and piloting lab Styrofoam recycling.

These strategies together will reduce costs and improve our environmental stewardship over the longer term.

These measures have also enabled Dal to better track contamination in its garbage by centralizing the path it takes to get to the landfill. Staff get an up-close look at what ends up in the clear bags, identify where contamination is happening around the university, and talk to building occupants and administrators if improvements are needed. The clear bag initiative plays to our advantage because now we can actually see which ones are contaminated and we start looking back at the source and educating those people.

  • Process to get here was developed with guidance of stakeholders
  • Compared to other universities
  • Three summer research projects
  • Presented to President’s Advisory Council on Sustainability
  • Strategic Initiatives approval for process