Reduce Reuse Recycle

    • Capilano University engages in a variety of recycling programs aimed at diverting waste away from the local landfill. We seek out opportunities to creatively address waste management.

      Film by student Chris Dietrich, BOSA Film Program

      In September 2011 Capilano University, with sponsorship by Encorp Pacific (Canada) began a journey of discovery about waste on campus. Over 200 student participated in two one day waste audits held in September and November 2011. Simply put, the key outcomes desired from the waste audit were:

      • To find out why students throw away rather than recycle, particularly refundable containers
      • Use that information to develop a more effective on-campus beverage recycling program

      On October 22, 2013, 225 Capilano University students from environmental geography, anthropology and archaeology, outdoor recreation and business courses participated in Cap’s fifth campus waste audit. Working in collaboration with the Facilities department, EarthWorks committee, Campus Sustainability Network and Smithrite Ltd., the students sorted through one day of campus waste.  The campus waste audits have become a key part of the curriculum, and a way to engage students from a variety of faculties across campus in hands-on learning. Through this ongoing research project, we aim to improve our waste management strategies at Cap and raise awareness about personal habits.

      The results are encouraging. We’re now diverting 40% of our total waste to composting, up from zero just a couple of years ago. In addition to food waste and compostable containers, the organics stream also includes nearly 100% of our paper towel waste from the North Vancouver campus. As a result of the audits, we’ve significantly reduced the amount of waste sent to landfill. In addition, between the spring and fall 2012 waste audits, the number of refundable beverage containers recovered from the waste stream was reduced by 80%. But we still have much to do. After sorting through the waste at the audit, we found that what we are throwing away as “waste” currently includes:

      • 40% organics 
      • 17% soft plastics 
      • 9% paper  

      The students involved in the project have been working to discover what can be done to help divert recycling and organics from what CapU sends to the landfill. Their recommendations will be informing the university’s decisions about how we manage our waste and how best to educate and encourage proper disposal. For more background on the initiative, read our previous post: Taking out the trash

       Capilano University received the Recycling Council of BC (RCBC) Educators Award in 2012 for this innovative curriculum initiative.    

      Sorting the Waste

      "I was horrified to see all that "waste" during our audit. The whole process really made me aware of what is actually being thrown away. I was surprised to see that there is a still lot of organic material and recyclable cans/juice boxes/water bottles/plastic containers going to the garbage. It will be interesting to see what the next waste audit brings us." (Willow H-S, Geography 101)